Thursday, 31 December 2009

UNITED END 2009 ON A HIGH!---MAN UNITED VS WIGAN ATHLETIC REVIEW!


In style indeed! United moved to within two points of leaders Chelsea after an emphatic 5-0 victory over Wigan at OT lat night. It was the perfect way to end a year that the club will remember as the one in which they equalled Liverpool's record of 18 league titles.

It was a much better performance from the lads yesterday. I thought Valencia did well on the wing---he seems to be up for some games and not out of the others. I still feel that he should get a plan B for his game when teams do not offer us as much space as Wigan did yesterday. It was good to keep a clean sheet and the five goals did boost our goal difference.
Rafael had his best game in a United shirt. It was good to see him score. Wayne Rooney seems to be permitted only a goal a game by the cruel hand of fate. He hit the frame of the goal twice yesterday. His goal takes his league tally to 14--at this rate, he will be top scorer in the league (injuries permitting).

Lastly but not least, happy birthday to Sir Alex. 68 years young today! Long Live the godfather of Manchester United.
We break off for the Cup now and then it's the small matter of a Carling Cup semi at Wastelands! In all probability, by the time we kick-off in the league again, we'll be third. Arsenal play their game in hand in mid-week.

In the meantime....cheers to all you red lot!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

LAST GAME OF 2009----MAN UNITED VS WIGAN PREVIEW!


Regardless of how we finish it, 2009 has not been such a bad year for United. We won the league, Carling Cup and reached a second consecutive Champions League final. If we do the same next year, nobody at United will be complaining.

Chelsea extended their lead over us to five on Monday so it's up to us to restore that lead with a win against a Wigan side that we seem to be able to beat regardless of our form. Failure to win tonight will make us worthy of being defined an inconsistent team--and that is not what league champions are tagged by. We break for the FA Cup this week so we need to keep our mouths sweet till the next installment of the league.
We seem to be getting better on the injury front so no need to elaborate on that front. Arsenal play at just abou the same time with us so failure to win could see us end the year in third place!
Tonight, it's all about putting our chances away because regardless of how Wigan play, they will be there. Having said that, we've sat through United games this season at the edge of our seats for 90 minutes so a similar scenario will not surprise me--wish I still had nails to bite though!

Oh....and er.....HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone in case I don't get back to you before 2010! Cheers!

Monday, 28 December 2009

HULL CITY VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!

Three points. Two points behind Chelsea now---Good. But for all intents and purposes, Manchester United are yet to peak this season. For those who believe that United get better in the second half of the season, it's good news but I feel that this is just about as good as United can get. There is a spark missing in our armour and every fan knows it. We've not been too pretty in our last three campaigns either but at least there have been games in which we have wrapped up the points in the first half and dozzed through the second. This season, we seem to dig deep in every game. People talk of beating Wolves without leaving first gear but where have we seen that first gear this season?---0-5 at Wigan? Two Wigan sides played that game and I think that the sides that have been able to keep their shape this season against us have all beaten us.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not writing off United--I'm rather saying that if I were a fan of a rival club, I would be kicking myself if United won the title in May--because this is just about as low as United can ever stoop to put themselves at the level of the rest of the Premier league--and to think that we are just two points from the top whilst this poor is probably a sign of how dominant we could have been this season if we were playing it right.

I'll halt the rant there. United beat Hull 3-1 yesterday. Rooney put us ahead and then gave the ball away cheaply and we were punished eventually from the spot by Fagan. Thankfully though, Rooney took it upon himself to spur us on to victory by creating two more. On the plus side, we bounced back from defeat with a win, Berbatov got on the score sheet, and we finally had a back four of defenders for the first time this month!
The one thing that irked me yesterday was the fact that we seemed to give the ball away easily so many times. We were a bit careless with our play and it gave Hull encouragement to have a go at us. But for their poor finishing, they could have had more than one goal.
I write this with the knowledge of Chelsea's victory over Fulham today, so we have to maintain the pressure with a win against Wigan on Wednesday!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

CHANCE TO CLOSE GAP TO JUST TWO POINTS---HULL CITY VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


Funny how Chelsea keep dropping points when United is in such terrible form that it stinks bad--so bad! It's funny that United, even after five league defeats already, can still win the league comfortably by putting on a run of wins in the second half of the season. It's even funnier that United could blow this golden chance to right the wrongs of the entire campaign so far---a chance to win the league at the first time of asking without Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez---a chance to create even more unbelievable history by clinching the fourth in a row---etc.
We've had so many chances this season to either capitalise on our rivals mistakes or to pile pressure on them but we've failed to drive them home. Sunday will be another chance for us to sort of start a run that could give us table leadership as early as the dawn of the new year! Whether we can take the chance is another matter as our defence in absentia is leaking goals left right and centre!
We travel to the KC Stadium tomorrow to take on a Hull City side we beat with our reserves last season. By kick-off, we'll have watched the teams from above and below us play and what more, only a draw between Villa and Arsenal earlier on will keep us second, any other result will mean that we'll kick off in third place---it's testament to how many points we have dropped in these past few games.

The Da Silva twins should be fit enough to play tomorrow. I think young Ritchie will partner one of Vidic or Brown in defence--although we could use both half-fit right now.
We failed to create any significant chances against Fulham so I hope that our forwards will be more creative this time.
Failure to get three points today might not make the travelling fans cheer the Reds in defeat. We are better off than we were last week (that's if Fergie doesn't play a back three) and I expect that our players know a thing or two about bouncing back from defeat!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

WEDNESDAY!


Well sometimes you really search for a title of a post and you fail, so don't read much into this one--but in case you had too many cans last night and are finding it hard to remember what day of the week it is, you might want to take another glance at the post heading.

First of all it's a sad day for United as we mourn the passing away of Busby Babe Albert Scanlon. He died at 74. God rest his soul.

Meanwhile Sir Alex claims that United will not sign players this January---or sign defensive cover this January--depends on the paper you read anyway! What's for sure though is that the manager has between now and the end of January to convince fans and haters alike that United are capable of winning another couple of trophies in May. A lot has been made of the defensive crisis, but I still think that our attack that is about 80m pounds is not instilling enough fear in opponents. It's why teams have come at OT and attacked us at will. Don't get me wrong, we have scored enough to compare well with past seasons at this stage but there is an unwritten saying in football that a strong attack can defend for you. The logic is that a perfect midfield that is potent going forward and retains the ball plus a deadly duo upfront means that the opposition can as well forget about attacking and concentrate on defending the point.
If Sir Alex makes no signings, then our title charge will have to be marshaled by a defence so tight that...that....well you get the point!

Monday, 21 December 2009

THE REAL MAN UNITED WOULD HAVE SEWN UP TITLE BY NOW!


Monday morning and what to do but look back at the events of the past weekend. All but Arsenal of the 'big four' group dropped points. United were by far the poorest performers--being outclassed in a 3-0 victory. In many ways, our title fight defence ought to have ended on Saturday at Craven Cottage but somehow--even after five league defeats, we are still the next best thing to Chelsea in the league! That really does send me wondering how far we would be if we were having a season that is more of United and less of what we've seen so far.

Fair enough, the defeat at Burnely was one of those shocks that you expect from United each season. Somehow we seem to succumb to one shock defeat in each season, so I'll overlook that defeat.
The draw at home against Sunderland was rather painful as we had the chance to put pressure on Chelsea ahead of their game against Liverpool. Losing to Chelsea was painful but it's more acceptable than losing to Villa at home. Forget jinxes, the Aston Villa game should have been a routine win. Losing to Fulham the other day---well given our defence, you can't complain much but the incentive of sharing top spot should have driven us through.

What I'm I pointing to...granted, we've had a crisis as far as injuries are concerned but expected that we either win 4-3, 3-2 more often than losing 3-0. It means that our forwards are not as efficient upfront. When Rooney plays badly, the team plays badly. Berbatov is class but has not done enough. I think that the wingers i.e. Valencia and Nani have not done enough to provide us with width. To be fair, Valencia has used his pace quite a lot but that left foot....
Nani has essentially been rubbish!
Having said that the Portuguese can still prove himself if he uses the pace he's blessed with and puts in crosses more often than not.

We've got the best manager ever as far as winning titles is concerned so given that Chelsea are not in the mood to ride miles ahead of us, we're always in with a chance!
HOWEVER...the sooner United recover their fighting spirit, the better for all of us.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

CHRISTMAS SHOULD BE CANCELLED AT OT THIS YEAR!---FULHAM VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


Before I start this, reader, be aware that I might let emotions get the better of me as its only a few minutes from the final whistle.
For starters, unless Sir Alex pulls off his greatest come-back since he was given the job, I now don't think that United will win the title. I've been a United fan long enough to know that even at this stage and in this state, we can still win it but I'm going to lower my expectations for now to avoid suicide or something. It was always going to be a tough ask to win the tile four times in a row even with Ronaldo and Tevez still in the side!

About today, well, the manager got his selection wrong again. A back three? That is hard enough with professional defenders in the side but how did he expect us to fare with midfielders in defence. You really have to feel for him because he says he has never seen as big an injury crisis as the one we have now at United and that is testament to the problems we have in defence today.
Still I think he should have set out his team 4-4-2. I mean we all saw how well we played when we he finally did make it a 4-4-2. I can't really blame the back three because they were all out of position in one way or the other. Fulham is a difficult place to go to but when your own player (Scholes) hands the opponents the initiative, then there is only so much that you can do. I thought we never recovered from that blunder by Scholes. The ginger prince was really not tat the races today. The other frustrating bit for me was that I don't know what it will take for Fergie to start Obertan more often. Considering what he did for Cristiano, it's surprising really!

Five defeats and still counting....Chelsea will in all probability make it a six point deficit tomorrow, so before we look up, I guess we first look down and keep our status as Chelsea's challengers---Aston Villa, Spurs and Arsenal might just start witching positions with us more often soon! What a bitter Christmas this is going to be! The best thing that can happen to us is the players using this defeat to mount a serious challenge for the title. But again, we've said that for all the losses we've suffered so far and yet we still seem uninspired to put on another lengthy run of wins. The only consolation for us is that Liverpool also lost again today to the bottom team in the league!

Friday, 18 December 2009

THE CRAVEN COTTAGE TEST---FULHAM VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


Fulham's ability is well documented. They did, after all, inflict on us a defeat at this stage last season. I have already mentioned on this blog that Fulham is the best coached side in the league outside the 'big four'. They have this ability to 'neatly' dispatch teams. At Fulham, you're probably psychologically beaten before the game starts given their tiny dressing room and their small pitch. Their players are therefore less likely to tire as much as they would on a pitch as big as OT. That should probably send a message to United players that last minute rallies for goals might not quite work out.

United are still battling to have a full back four of defenders. Vidic will probably have a late fitness test but if he fails, Carrick and Fletcher should come in. It's not the kind of defence that you would want for a fixture as tough as this one but what to do. What I really hope for is that we have a better first half than the one we had last time there. I also hope that we finish the game with eleven men--last time we finished with just 9!
As far as the title race is concerned, this is our chance to once again put pressure on Chelsea by drawing level at the top as they are not in action till Sunday evening.
I really hope that Fergie goes with two-strikers for this one as that 4-4-1-1 or 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 is really getting to my nerves. Obertan should start and Park can be the impact sub. What is for sure though is that we cannot afford to be as relaxed as we were on Tuesday.

MILAN IT IS!


They say that you get what you wish for---David Beckham prayed for a meeting between his loan club AC Milan and United. It's certainly an opportunity for him to return to OT on club duty for the first time in seven years.
From a United perspective, this is one of the toughest draws that we could possibly have got. Milan are not quite the side that humiliated United in 2006 but they do raise their game when occasion demands. Their victory at the Bernabeau this season is testimony to that.
One really hopes that by the time the two legs come around, we don't have the likes of Carrick playing central defence. I do fancy United against any side when we are at full strength!
We might just have the likes of Hargreaves around for this one so it's all about crossing our fingers as far as injuries to our stars is concerned!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

A FEW NOTES AHEAD OF AN INTERESTING WEEKEND!

Let me just get this out of the way---United were not what you expect of United against Wolves on Tuesday! Whether that was because of the opposition--I don't know but we seem not to have a ruthlessness in us that above all limits our opponent's forays in our own half. I must say that even Wolves yesterday would have scored at least twice given the way our midfield let Wolves access our back line. I also feel that the forwards need to shoot more often instead of looking for that final pass. Evra said that he was not happy about our goal return of three against a second string Wolves side--well I doubt the fans were that impressed either. The one positive we can take from the game yesterday is that Valencia can have an awful game but still get on the score-sheet. Only goals can help his cause since he has failed to make use of the other foot to create opportunities for the other lads!

We've got Fulham away on Saturday and I think that will really test us. Fulham play European football these days so they are as competitive as any side in the league. They are the best coached team outside the big four in England so one mistake on Saturday can cost us the game--more on that later.

We've got the Champions League last 16 draw, and looking at the possible opponents that we can meet, we'll have to cross our fingers during the one hour long draw!

Monday, 14 December 2009

MAY THE REAL MAN UNITED PLEASE STAND UP!---MAN UNITED VS WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS PREVIEW!


If there is one thing that fans and haters alike know about United is that they know how to bounce back from defeat. The loss against Villa at home on Saturday hurt so bad that this game is more of a blessing for many. United have been quickly handed a chance to put things right and what more--continue that job we were still doing of pressurising Chelsea into submission. We play a day before them so we can still share top spot with them ahead of their game against Portsmouth on Wednesday.
Tuesday is one of those games where if we lose, it will take the most optimistic fan to still count United as Champions come May. Our next seven games are all winnable so all it takes is a little bit of 'putting away our chances' and we shall be home and dry. I don't like the fact that Valencia does not shoot often. He really is frustrating at times on that wing. THIS time I really hope that Fergie goes for the kill from the word go by playing two strikers. Rooney and Berbatov than Owen late on. It's the one formula that he can use and guarantee himself no complaints from the fans.
I also hope that Park is selling us shirts as I'm beginning to wonder why he's so blunt upfront. He seems like a defensive winger these days! Obertan is really our saviour on that wing and I hope he gets another chance to show his ability tomorrow.
Brown and Vidic are lacking some kind of telepathy at the moment so hopefully they recover that sooner rather than later.
Wolves have recorded one or two shocking results over us in the Premier League era--by thunder I really hope that tomorrow is not 'one of those days'!

RYAN GIGGS--A LIVING LEGEND!







You heard it here first! Ryan GIGGS is the 2009 BBC SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR! A tribute to a living legend!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

ANOTHER KICK IN THE TEETH!----MAN UNITED VS ASTON VILLA REVIEW!


You wonder how many teeth we have left eh?
Seriously, sometimes you feel like having a go at United but since the British press do enough of undressing them after a defeat, there's not much I can do other than defend their cause.
Aston Villa did a good job of hanging on to their lead yesterday and credit to them they went away with all three points. United on the other hand failed to make any of their chances count and on a day you thought Chesea's lead was no more in the league after their draw earlier, we instead lost further ground!
Who to blame--Well it's easy pointing a finger at the manager, especially considering the formation--but nobody complained when that formation was winning us goals in our last few games.
The players--You can't really say they did not have a go especially in the second half--and to be fair Villa only had joy from our one weakness on the night--Darren Fletcher in the right-back spot!
At the end of the day, you only have to look forward. Maybe the players will come to realise that in this league you never drop your guard. Maybe Sir Alex will finally introduce Gabriel Obertan as first team player.
What's for sure is that we need to revisit our priorities this term. If we want to win the league, then I can safely say that basing on our past three triumphs, we need to win all the remaining home games to match the total of five points dropped at home in each of the last three seasons.
Sir Alex only demands that we are within touching distance from the leaders come January so hopefully we shall be.
I really think that Chelsea are in a blip and so we can't afford to be in one as well because once they start winning again, then we'll have our hands full going into the run-in!

In short--- It was gutting to lose yesterday!

Friday, 11 December 2009

VILLA IN TIME FOR TEA!----MAN UNITED VS ASTON VILLA PREVIEW!




The only reason why United appear to click into gear after the Christmas break is down to what they do during the Christmas break. We seem to have put Chelsea under enough pressure so far and our reward is seeing their five point lead over us diminish to two points.
With the other members of the 'big four' in direct battle this week (Arsenal and Liverpool) we can extend the margin between ourselves and one or both of them in effect realistically reduce the threat to our title to just one team.
We seem to do well when we know who we are up against and I'm pleased that we've not had much trouble from Liverpool and Arsenal as far as retaining our trophy is concerned.
Chelsea will in all probability have extended their lead over us to five point again by the time we kick off against Aston Villa so by kick-off, United will be hopping not to undo all their hard-work over the past month! The game against Villa comes down to keeping the pressure on Chelsea. It's harder to maintain a two point lead than a five point lead because one has security and the other doesn't so hopefully we can keep winning our way to the top!

Only Nemanja Vidic returns to the side as far as defence is concerned so that is a positive given that half our defenders will be 'real defenders'. No really...it is a plus especially when you look at the side that lined up in Germany the other day. I expect TK to keep his place in goal as he is continuously looking as the best next thing we have in goal.
Giggs is back, Rooney is back, Obertan should in my mid, be given a spot in our side on Saturday as he seems to be the real deal in attack---well at least better than Nani!
We've got Wolves on Tuesday so in all probability we have a chance of notching six points in the league in the space of four days! Hopefully we can wrap them up and see what Santa has for us over the following weekend!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

NOT SUCH A BAD SIGNING AFTERALL EH?--- WOLFSBURG VS UNITED REVIEW!


I guess if you sign an injury prone, 'finished' striker on a free contact who can get you a hatrick in an away game in the Champions League against the German champions despite playing virtually as a lone striker and taking three of his four chances in the game, then he wasn't such a waste of time at all was he?
In all fairness, I thought the team as a unit helped Owen's cause as we really had some last ditch defending before we could release the ball forward to the likes of Owen. For the record, we defended poorly but I doubt anybody expected better given our well documented crisis at the back, but thankfully, Owen was in no mood to waste any chance that fell his way last night so we can all start praising Sir Alex for his shrewdness in the market!

I once against thought that TK did well in goal for us and maybe we might not need to sign another keeper. He seemed to be flawless even without a proper defence in front of him. I wonder how Foster would have performed with yesternight's defence... anyhow, this lad seems to have what it takes to cut it at United and I'd be really gutted if he was not given at least the understudy role to the no.1 for now.

Let me just end this by hopping we have a better defence than what we saw yesterday for Villa on Saturday. They will punish all those loopholes that the Germans failed to punish last night--the premier league is, by all means a more gruelling competition than even the Champions league.

Monday, 7 December 2009

'FOURMIDABLE' UNITED CAN'T GET A BACK FOUR TOGETHER---THE REVIEW!

A belated review but this is just a warning for what should prove to be a busy week for me. United did get the job done at Upton Park and I thought that it was a huge three points for us as we played the game with a hardly a back four. It's gutting really that all our injuries are happening in one department--defence! That Fergie is struggling to get Vidic fit to partner Carrick of all people on Tuesday night is testament to the crisis we are in. I personally hope that all our hard work so far this season is not undone by the crisis at hand.
Otherwise it was a solid performance from the lads at Upton Park over the weekend, and the news of Chelsea's defeat at Citeh made it all the more a wonderful weekend.It means we are now just two pints from the summit--a position that we can occupy as soon as the new year if we maintain our form.
Darren Gibson did himself no harm with another screamer of a goal that effectively killed off he game. Good to see Valencia and Scholes on the score-sheet as well. Fergie should however resist the temptation of playing a European away formation in Premier League games as it does leave Rooney with a lot of work to do upfront alone. It has worked for two games but I doubt we shall keep getting this lucky.
We play Wolfsburg in the Champions League in mid-week and only God knows the back four Fergie will put out. I personally won't be surprised if Berbatov lines up alongside Carrick in central defence! Busy week for me in the court room so hopefully we'll keep top spot in the group and I'll 'see' dear reader for Villa at the weekend!

Friday, 4 December 2009

ANOTHER MUST WIN, ALBEIT TOUGH, GAME---WEST HAM UNITED VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


The thing about chasing the leaders of the league is that you cannot afford to drop even a single point before they do lest they disappear in thin air. United did a good job of putting some considerable pressure on Chelsea before their game at the Emirates and even though they restored their five point lead, we did at least manage to keep in touch!
Take a look at Chelsea's next few fixtures and the book makers will almost certainly tell you that tomorrow is their likeliest chance of dropping points. Manchester City a.k.a 'The Bitters' are technically....okay, statistically the league's most difficult team to beat. They've only been neaten once this season (against you know who) and they've got these numerous draws that have thankfully kept them in our shadow even after a much anticipated season of 'City dominance over United'. We United fans could do with another City draw tomorrow. There is nothing as bad as watching two teams that you want both to lose. However, if there is any day we wouldn't mind a City win, it's tomorrow.
Now the idea is that by the time that game kicks off, we should...no, we must be two points behind Chelsea such that the worst we can get out of that match is keep five points behind.
West Ham are not having the best of seasons but you have to say that the game at Upton Park every season is a potential banana skin for United. We seem to lose our way there and that they've given their fans free scarfs ahead of the visit of the champions, we must really be at our best to go away with all the points.
It took a Ryan Giggs moment of magic to win us all the points there last season but we all know what happened the season before that and the season before that.

EVDS is fit and available but it has to be said that TK has made sure that we haven't really missed him. The injured defensive trio of Evans, O'Shea and Rio is still out as is Hargreaves so we should not really change much from he team that has been going out of late. Bebatov and Wayne Rooney should re-unite in attack once more. I expect Fergie to stick with Giggs in our starting line up with Player of the Month Antonio Valencia taking the other wing spot.
Sir Alex has already made it clear to the players that every game now is a must win so hopefully the lads will be mentally tuned for this one as well.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

WHAT A RESPONSE!---MAN UNITED VS TOTTENHAM REVIEW!


Okay let's not get carried away, it was not such as such a flawless victory because on any other day, Defoe would have taken that chance and who knows what might have happened then, but in the end, you must give it up for the 'kids' as some journalist branded them last week. I mean our senior team at its best would still have found such a Tottenham side tough. In fact, let's not kid ourselves, Spurs sent out a complete Premier League team that only their fans will deny it was not first choice. That our youngsters rose to the challenge and masterminded a victory over them is testament to their potential. More than anything else it was the solid performance in the second half that impressed me. The lads were not willing to give Spurs any hope of a comeback. It was a professional job seeing out the game.
Darren Gibson. Fantastic. He has the one quality I really hoped that one one of our senior players would adopt from Ronaldo and that is to shoot! When struck a shot miles wide in the opening stages, you wouldn't think that he was capable of doing what he did next. Credit to him--he can hit them and it does say a lot about his ability now that the Stretford End started urging him to shoot even when he is miles in his own half. Only Paul Scholes was given that honour before. Having said all that, Gibson does need to learn a thing or two about passing that ball cleverly. If he can add that to his game then he is home and dry. The one thing he can take heart from is that players who score goals such as he did last night are almost certain to have a future at the club.
I thought TK had another good game in goal. He certainly is doing himself no harm in his period between the sticks---if only Ben could learn a thing or two about the value of confidence.
Vidic was back to his best yesterday and only Defoe can tell how rock solid he was last night. It's not often that you realise the contribution of a defender however good he is, but when Vidic is on form, you feel his presence.
It was good to see Berbatov back so hopefully he will be available for West Ham at the weekend.

Monday, 30 November 2009

SECOND CHANCE FOR THE KIDS---MAN UNITED V TOTTENHAM PREVIEW!


First things first... Chelsea managed to restore their five point lead over us in the league by beating Arsenal. Many are now happy to declare them Champions but I really doubt that we shall relinquish our trophy that easy. We only have to keep doing our job--picking up maximum points!
Now on to tomorrow's game--Sir Alex has blasted the English media for their criticism towards our young players that featured in the defeat to Besktas. The official webs site will give you the mouthful that the fiery Scott gave them.
To be fair, I thought that the 'kids' did well and the experience will help them. I don't know how man sides in Europe can put out a team of under 22 that can challenge European opposition. It's a tribute to the guys who work with the young lads in the academy.
Thankfully for them, our second string side gets its chance to correct the wrongs of last week with a home tie against Tottenham in the Carling Cup quarterfinal. Spurs will obviously prove much tougher opposition for them than Besiktas but we have home advantage and so I really hope that the players can use that to their advantage.
It will be interesting to see who starts in goal because everyone thought that Tomas K did enough to earn a spot in tomorrow's game. He is for me, a better choice than Ben Foster--at least until the latter can regain his confidence.
Otherwise it will be pretty much the same team that lost to Besiktas last week. I only hope that Fergie can give Berba some game time to restore him back to match fitness. Park and Owen might also get a look in...and thence I ask the question--What happened to a certain United player called Nani? Does anybody know? Injured? Holiday? Sick...?
The other point of discussion today is the right back slot. O'Shea seems to have made that position his for now but he is hardly the best we can hope for in that area. I thought that Rafael would step up but he seems to play football as though he is starring in an Indianan Jones movie--that explains all the flying and lunges, and adventurous forays that have become a part of him---I'm not sure that's the best we can get either. Neville is way off the pace but he does know a thing or two about crossing that ball and he has the experience. I think that if or when Rio gets fit, Brown should resume his right back duties that served us so well in the season we won the biggest double in club football.
For the lads tomorrow, I think they can only do themselves a favour by striving to stay in the competition as I think it;s the only channel through which most of them will get an opportunity to impress. I mean only a few get to look in the first team so this is their Cup final. The FA Cup third round against Leeds or Kettering will be their next match if they blow this chance!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

A TALE OF PENALTIES---PORTSMOUTH VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


Thank God for the points!
Now that I've got that out of the way, let me point out a couple of things about our latest result. First thing first--it was a great win! I mean Fratton Park has been a sort of bogey ground for us so to get four goals there is no mean feat.
Rooney bagged a hatrick, his third for United and Giggs scored another wonderful free-kick that installs him permanently in the Premier League Hall of Fame--100 goals not out!
On the face of it, it seems to have gone all well for United but it could just as easily have gone all wrong for us. Just how the ref managed to grant Pompey a penalty for absolutely nothing will always be a mystery and you could see the impact it had on our players. To put it mildly, it was plain cheating! I really wonder what Fergie would have had to say about the ref if that penalty had cost us maximum points--I mean there he was serving a match ban for insulting an official, watching another official practically rob us of the lead. It was disgusting!

Enough of that! I thought Fergie overworked our midfield today by playing Rooney as the lone striker. It worked but if you saw that first half and what the stats said about us, you knew we lacked personnel upfront. Berbatov should have started or at least come on. I thought Neville was poor, and his lack of pace would have cost us dearly against more capable opponents.
The stand out performers include Rooney, Valencia and Giggs. The one on top of that list however is none other than Tomas Kuszcack(sp). Regular readers of this blog should know that I've always rated him ahead of Ben Foster for the simple reason that he is confident. Yes he might get beaten but confidence is all you can ask from a goalkeeper. Today he pulled off saves that I thought kept us in the game. I counted five world class saves and given our position in those respective periods, those saves might have won us the game. He was for me the man of the match and I think its time Fergie granted him the number two spot. It will be gutting to lose a keeper of his quality.
Valencia was our best player in the first half and I think that today he used his pace quite well to our benefit. Scholes had a relatively solid performance in the middle of the park but you wonder if it is he that was picked to play behind Rooney as he hardly got past the centre circle!

In the end, massive three points that put us within two points of Chelsea and hence puts them under some pressure to get a result tomorrow. It's the sort of pressure that works against the teams above you hence my emphasis on the need to win today. We've got Spurs in the Carling Cup on Tuesday but for now we can sit back and sip a lemonade or beer if you like as we watch the action unfold from the Emirates stadium. I heard that Ancelloti was supporting Rafa when we went to Anfiled a couple of weeks back. No marks for guessing who Fergie will be supporting tomorrow! cheers!

A TEST FOR UNITED'S TITLE CREDENTIALS---PORTSMOUTH VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!




So far, not bad, as far as United's title aspirations this season are concerned--but for all their ability to spring into gear in the second half of the season, I can't see United as Champions come May if we fail to beat bottom placed Portsmouth today. For me the league champion is that side that inflicts the most psychological injury to their rivals. So far we've had one chance to do that (against Sunderland) and we've not taken it. When your rivals are clashing a day after you play, there is nothing better than winning your game a day earlier and watch them drop points the following day. Had we beaten Sunderland at home, I feel that Chelsea would have been more nervous going into their game with Liverpool. Instead, they went about their task comfortably and in the end won the match without breaking much sweat. We're now five points behind and for many we can't afford to drop any more before Chelsea do.
This weekend gives us another opportunity to eat into Chelsea's lead and watch them travel to the Emirates under all sorts of pressure to restore their advantage. The logic here is that our failure to beat Pompey will only encourage them to extend their lead even further and an eight point deficit in November is the last thing we need right now.

Now that I've made the essence to win clear, how about we assess the difficulty of the task.
On paper, it should be a straight win for United given that Pompey are mathematically the worst team in the division so far. However, they changed manager in mid-week and that, as we have come to learn does change teams radically--usually for better! It's an old foe this time--Avram Grant aka 'The Frog' will be in the dugout today. We have a little history with him as we were probably responsible for his sacking when we won the European Cup two years ago against Chelsea. The British media will love to think that this is his chance to get revenge and possibly do his old club a favour.
Sir Alex has already pointed out the effect that Grant could have on the players but I feel that we United are above that and so should be able to get the points at Fratton Park even with a spirited performance from Pompey!
The regular absentees are absent but Berba will be fit to start.
Just in case I've not made my point, here it is---this is a must win game for United!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

NOT EXACTLY HOW WE PLANNED IT TO BE!---MAN UNITED VS BESIKTAS REVIEW!


Yeah so well if you read the preview, you might just as well accuse me for complacency but I made it very clear that any result bar a defeat was acceptable. In the end, we lost and in turn lost our 24 match unbeaten run at home in Europe. Well who cares! United is good at 'firsts' but we are not the kind of team that thrives on making records. Contrast our form at home in the Premier League with that of Chelsea and you'll know what I'm talking about--but who ends up with the league title more often? It was gutting to lose our record against a team that is way below us in the European rankings (no offence to Besiktas) but at least that is out of the way so we can play with a bit less pressure when tougher teams come to OT in the following stages.

As far as the game is concerned, I thought that we learnt one or two things from the players on show---Gabriel Obertan can give us what neither Valencia nor Nani can provide us with in the first team--penetration! Quite simply, I think we might benefit more from him in the first team--I mean he seems to have the 'finishing' problem that Ronaldo had when he joined us so I think more exposure could turn him into a gem just like it did for Ronaldo.

Secondly, I think that we have a 'finishing virus' in our team this season--I mean I thought it was just a problem of the first team but if you look at the chances that Besiktas had in the game and look at ours, especially in the first half, you could say that they were the likely team to score each time they attacked! When you come to think of it, they could have been two up at half-time albeit against the run of play.
They had a lethal touch when near our goal compared to our lads who were only willing to find a route through their defence or to pass the ball till the six yard box. If we are to challenge for major honours this season, we need to work on that---fast!

Hard luck on Macheda who by all logic should have beaten Rustu at the death. When you think of that chance as well as his header against the post against Wolfsburg, you wonder what we would all be making of his potential.

A point would have granted us the leadership of the table but now we have to earn that in Germany! You only hope that this defeat will not disrupt heads ahead of the game at Portsmouth--which now stands out as a must win for us--reasons in the preview!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A TIME TO RELAX----MAN UNITED VS BESIKTAS PREVIEW!


Make no mistake whilst reading the title of this post--we have to preserve our proud home record in Europe for as long as it lasts. United face Besiktas in the Champions League tomorrow and, well, it's one of those games where a preview is not needed! I'm just doing routine work here.
So the whole world expects Sir Alex to make wholesale changes for the game. I reckon that the likes of Obertan, Macheda, Welbeck, Owen, Gibson, and the captain Neville, will get a start. Unfortunately, our defensive crisis means that we cannot afford to change the back four.
Park is back so I'd think that this is the perfect stage for him to get some match fitness.
This is our last group stage home match and a win will surely grant us top spot(not that it guarantees anything given last season).
A good run of games can only do the system good so I hope that we don't upset the winning momentum that we built on Saturday for a long time to come!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

EVERTON SUFFER BACKLASH!----MAN UNITED VS EVERTON REVIEW!


I doubt we have performed any better than today at home this season in the league. In the City derby, we defended like a Championship side, against Arsenal, we got lucky and the rest were pretty much close shaves.
The 3-0 scoreline today wasn't flattering and I think we could have got more. The main concern for us now should be the difficulty we are facing in getting goals. I mean we have created enough chances in our last two games to win four games comfortably but we only have three goals to show. The number of goals we have compared to the ones Chelsea and Arsenal have goes to show our weakness upfront. I wish Valencia could adopt the philosophy he took on in the second half today---shoot on sight. It's an old cliche that if you don't shoot you don't score and I hope the deflected goal he got today will show him that. Having a defender infront of you should not hinder you from taking a shot because it might as well be the reason as to why you'll beat the keeper! The same pretty much applies to Carrick who also got his reward today.

Now, today, Old Trafford witnessed one of its best goals of all time---yes, of all time--from Darren Fletcher. From the moment that ball hit the back of the net, I was reminded of Zinedine Zidane's goal in the Champions League final of 2002 against Bayer Leverkusen. It was that good and it goes to show how much the Scot has improved in the last couple of years. He was my man of the match.
I thought we did well defensively and mention must go to Evra, who ran his socks off on the left and kept trying to create the much needed spark we needed.
I thought Giggs was a notch lower than his average performance for us this term. Owen was a bit too heavy on his touches and too slow to react to situations.
In the end though solid performance, clean sheet, three points that should kick start a long run of wins. We're second now but it remains a five point gap to eat into.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A TIME TO SOW----MAN UNITED VS EVERTON PREVIEW!




It's an early preview for the weekend's game but what should one do if all he can get from Skysports news is Thierry Henry's handball last night?
After a two week break, club football resumes for the long haul this weekend and it couldn't have re-started any sooner for United. We are a club that thrives on wins so it's sickening when your last game reads 'L'! The defeat to Chelsea was hard to take given the way we played and the fact that we went five points behind means that we have it all to do between now and the new year to address our position in the league. The Champions League is not an issue now that we are into the last 16 and the Carling Cup has it's hungry players; what we really need to do now is push on the league and go on a winning run, the kind that sent us to the top of the league last season.
The players and fans alike have been talking about going on a winning run but I really hope that they realise it's not a given right that United will win all its games until the visit to the Emirates.
If we can build on the quality we showed at Stamford Bridge then we can pick up those thirty points, and I'm quite sure we'll be top then. We seem to have maintained our poor run of results against the other members of the 'big four' in the league so we cannot afford to lose points against the lower league sides.

Sir Alex's ban starts next week so he will be available to give the fourth official an earful in the Old Trafford dugout. Most of our players have been away on International duty so I hope the fitness levels will be high. You fear for the likes of Evra who played for two hours on Wednesday. O'Shea picked up a knock so it will be interesting who Fergie picks to replace him in case he fails to recover. Berbatov broke the Bulgaria goal scoring record for the national side in mid-week and he should make his return alongside Wayne Rooney. Park played for Korea in mid-week and should therefore be available and so will Nemanja Vidic. I doubt if Ferdinand will be fit till next month.
Other than that, the manager has the freshness of Owen, Giggs, Scholes and Neville to count on if he wishes so.
United have not yet started winning league games convincingly and that is largely down to the poor finishing we've shown of late. I hope we really get into the mood of finishing off teams early and taking our chances because that is what will determine our run in into the new year.
Chelsea's lead is not unassailable, but it largely means that we cannot afford to drop any further behind. That is the mentality that our players should have from now till May.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A LOT ABOUT THE WEEK!


So the fortnight without football continues but the English press--being the English press will not run out of ideas to right. We therefore have one or two decisions to discuss about what has been going on in the press recently.

In no particular order, I'm starting with what I found the most, well, interesting.
According to new EPL rules managers will be forced to talk to rights holders post match. Established United fans will know that Sir Alex has been ignoring the BBC for six years following the comments made about he and his son in 2004 for the transfer of players. Can anybody wait to see Fergie in front of the BBC cameras? Will it materialise? Roll on next season!

Darren Fletcher is maing all the right noises in the press about his desire to play for United. This is where I think the older players influence the younger ones. I mean at United we have the likes of Vida, Fletch, Rooney, Berba, O'Shea and Rio who have all taken the example of Giggs and Scholes and Neville by committing their long term future to United. You can see what Fergie is doing by granting the likes of Scholes and Giggs extensions to their deals. Scholes is 35 on Monday but he will be given a new deal----I just hope he's kept away from the big games, like Neville is.

Then there is the Nani question---One wonders which manager has the key to unlock his talents. He had an outburst about the way Fergie has been treating him and although he stated he will not be looking for a move, the manager might be. Very rarely does one face off with Sir Alex and win. You only have to look at Fergie's recent signings to determine the confidence he has in Nani's position.
Speaking of Sir Alex, he got banned by the FA for the Sunderland comments directed to Alan Wiley. He'll be on phone for Everton and Pompey. A further two game ban is suspended until nexts season (as of they are sure he'll still be in charge). There is also a 20k fine which I think he can take care of from his pocket.
We have 10 of our next 11 games against teams from the bottom half. I think if we really want our tile back, it should be at least 30points out of 33!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

NOTHING MUCH

Doesn't one just hate International breaks? Especially if you really want to get the sour taste of defeat from your mouth!

Monday, 9 November 2009

THE POSITIVES----CHELSEA VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


As the title of this post suggests, I'm not going to dwell much on the negatives--the fact that we were beaten yesterday but rather the positives. All who wish to have a read at the positives in their most exaggerated form can take a look at any of the British papers today.

I was really impressed by the performance yesterday and any Chelsea fan will tell you that United have so far given them the sternest test. That the Chelsea fans were nervy towards the end, hopping for the full time whistle at Stamford Bridge is testament to how good we were. I mean those very fans thought that yesterday was the opportunity for their side to put two or three in United's net! In spite of our injuries, it didn't happen, and but for the injustice of hurling Wes down, I think we could have left the Bride with at least a point.
The partnership between Evans and Brown, was for me superb. I don't know if it was in response to the critics or the fact that they raised their game because of the occasion but they did look like our first choice defenders. If they can keep it up, we are safe with such cover. I mean who would have known that Vidic and Rio were out?
I thought that Anderson did well in the middle. He seems to be developing into the holding midfielder we lack at the club. If only he could run a little faster and finish better. I thought Rooney did well on his own upfront. Him and Giggs can only be faulted for a couple of poor decisions that could have otherwise led to goals. EVDS should never retire!
In short, what I'm saying is that we shall win the league if we play as good as we played yesterday for the rest of the season. The five point gap that Chelsea has over us is not too big to overhaul. All we have to do is do our job. I like the fact that the players are talking about a long unbeaten run. It will do us good, and given that one or two stars are likely to return after the 10 day break, we should be okay by Christmas--or so I hope!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

THE NEED TO WIN!----CHELSEA VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


Manchester United sold their leadership of the league when they got beaten at Anfield. Sunday, however, provides us with the opportunity to regain the summit crown. All we have to do is win a game of football.

So let's get the facts straight, in more ways than one, we are in a somewhat similar position to that Liverpool was in when we visited Anfield last month!
Don't get me wrong, defeat to Chelsea will not blow away our chances of winning the league this season---it's just just you feel that we cannot afford to be as many as five points behind Chelsea. They will be chasing their dinner on Sunday so we should be running for our lives! That is the enthusiasm and determination that we should carry into the game on Sunday. I think that this is one of the few games in the league where every small mistake could be punished. We've had a poor run of results at the Bridge lately because of Chelsea's rise into a force that knows how to punish every mistake that the opponent makes.
The defending for instance has got to be a notch or two higher as the Drog will not be in any mood to spare the team that cost him a Champions League medal. Anelka, Lampard, Essien, Malouda and Joe Cole are among the names we have to keep quiet tomorrow alongside trying to get ourselves a goal or two. It's tough alright--I mean this is the strongest possible side we can face in the league so we can't afford to be any complacent.
If we play as good as we did in the Community Shield, we have a chance, because I think they scored out of the weakness we had in goal (sorry Ben)! Team news, we have Vida, Berba and Giggs back. Rio misses, Fary is suspended. The rest are available for selection.
I'd like to see Fergie go with two strikers as there is no reason as to why a defence as good as theirs needs only one problem. Then Scholes should not start in midfield, I'd rather he goes for two of Anderson, Giggs, Fletcher and Carrick. Fetcher is a must start so possibly Ando may miss out again. Giggs might be pushed to the wing to acccomodate Carrick. What I really hope for is that our midfield does support the attackers even when we are defending. They need to be close enough to hit on the counter. Chelsea use their full backs a lot so that means Evra and O'Shea might have to keep back more often. I think that Fergie should be bold enough to start with Obertan as he could give us a break when we are under pressure. Having said that, he probably won't start him. He'll only see my sense when we are a goal or two down (not so pessimistic I'm I?).
The rewards for victory are great and so I hope we reap them; So Come on United!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

INTO THE LAST 16, BUT....MAN UNITED VS CSKA MOSCOW REVIEW!


So since when did our defenders become referees? I mean how could Wes Brown and co. blatantly let a CSKA player score because they judged that he was offside-- What happened to paying to the whistle? And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, practice of marking the guy at the far post is trashed. 3-1 to CSKA Moscow!
I'll make my point now...If we defend like we did yesterday against Chelsea, we don't stand a chance!
Good thing for us it was Old Trafford and we were attacking the Stretford End, looking for at least two goals. They did come in the last 6 minutes. A Paul Scholes header and a Valencia dive that took a wicked deflection leaving the otherwise impressive Ankifeev helpless. Michael Owen got our first goal and we can now safely say that if he remains fit for the rest of the season, he will get at lest 15 goals for us. He really still knows a thing or two about poaching goals.
I thought Fletch was unlucky with the booking he got and given that UEFA don't accept appeals, we can only hope that yesterday's card does not come to haunt him in the latter stages of the tournament.
I must commend the players for the effort they put in to ensure that our proud home record in the Champions League remains intact. February 2005 was the last time we lost at home and I think we'd have to go back to Deportivo La Corunia in 2002 for the last time we lost a group stage game at home.
Sir Alex did a good job of resting his best players for the game so you think that they will be ready for Sunday. Chelsea are the strongest possible opposition we can face in the league so we'll have to be at our best. It's one of those games where an off-day is unacceptable!
Gabriel Obertan for me, has shown enough to merit a starting berth in our team. I mean there is nothing that Nani gives us at the moment that he can't. He's worth a punt in team. It was early experience that helped Ronaldo be what he is and I really hope that the young Frenchman gets more than just cameo roles in games. He has what it takes to complement Berbatov and Rooney in attack. Enough said!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

ONE POINT AWAY--- MAN UNITED VS CSKA MOSCOW PREVIEW!


A quick preview for a game that should not be of major concern for United. We've got Chelsea on Sunday so you feel that this is only a minor distraction for bigger things ahead.
My main concern though is that Sir Alex has got this habit of hoarding players for minor games and resting so many of them for a big game. What I mean is that not up to five or six players need a rest for Sunday. I mean we play on Tuesday at home and so have all week till Sunday fir our next game. You feel that even those who will have played today will be ready. It does affect the team and a case in point must be how our well rested players failed to turn up at Anfield!
Giggs, Vidic, Ferdinand, Park and possibly Berbatov will possibly sit out tonight. I think Fergie will opt to start Owen and Obertan as well as Scholes and Fletcher. The latter should play apart as he will need match fitness before we head to the bridge. I also have this feeling that EVDS will be left out. Gary will most probably start.
CSKA have got a new coach and we all know too well what that could mean as far as their need fr a result is concerned. We have a proud home record in Europe so I hope we at least defend that tonight. A point will put us through while a win will almost certainly guarantee us top spot.
You feel that we need this win to go into Sunday on the back of a win. It really does help!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

BACK TO WINNING WAYS----MAN UNITED VS BLACKBURN REVIEW!


Berbatov, Owen and Obertan were guilty of missing chances that we would have looked back on if Blackburn had, in the end, managed to salvage a draw from the game. Thankfully, they didn't. United went into this game on the back of defeat to Liverpool in the league so we badly needed the points especially since we have a tough game in London next week.
Berbatov and Rooney got us the goals that won the game for us but you wonder if the Bulgarian will hit the 25 goal mark by only scoring spectacular goals. I mean he should also start putting away the cheap point black tap ins like the free-header he had today to boost his tally. It was another display of wastefulness from our attackers and when you compare the number of goals our rivals have racked up against Blackburn to our tally tonight, it's worrying.
Hopefully I'm not being too hard on him. Wayne is back to scoring so hope that lasts. We could really do with a goal from him next Sunday. I thought Obertan was too excited/nervous and so failed to put away a couple of chances. Owen is not doing himself any favours by missing the kind of chance he missed today but his goal in mid-week will let him off the hook for now.
I feel that Nani could do with a little bit of competition in the team so hopefully Obertan will start a few games. He seems to have the flash of pace and brilliance that we so desperately need. Valencia needs to start hammering in more crosses in the box than he does. I feel he is too elaborate with the ball. Anderson was my man of the match, shook off competiton from Evra.

In the most unchronological way I hope I have put across some of the things we need to work on to keep our chances alive of winning a milestone 4th league title in a row.
We did well in the Cup on Tuesday and have to deal with Tottenham at home at the end of next month to seal a last four berth! CSKA Moscow should not be a worry on Wednesday but how about the game on Sunday, there is everything to lose in that one! More on that later!

Monday, 26 October 2009

OOoops!----LIVERPOOL VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!




Yeah well, you should probably read the preview before this one (that's in case you missed it). I mean it was always going to be the curse of the form-book wasn't it? Any top club that was in Liverpool's form only needed such a big game to motivate them and deliver them from their blushes. It's that simple. We've had that curse working in our favour on a few occasions so it shouldn't be too hard to understand. Remember us ending Arsenal's unbeaten run back in 2005? Remember beating Jose's Chelsea 1-0 at OT--that Darren Fletcher goal? I mean it was already documented for me. I never expected, but hopped.

Good thing though that this is the league we're talking about and so it never matters if you lose to Liverpool every season home and away if it means that at the end you will win the title. Yes, the press will have a field day this week writing all crap about how we are missing Ronaldo---as if we don't miss Cantona, Best, Charlton, Law, etc---I mean is there any point in having them in our team now. Whenever they will learn that Ronaldo was not dismissed from OT?!
I still feel that if we can get the three points from the lesser sides in the league, we can still win the league. I mean we only beat a big-four opponent once last season--and considering that we've already beaten one this season, defeat to one of them should not mean doom.
Realistically, it will be harder for us this season--but this is United we are talking about. That we are distraught after what happened on Sunday is why I'm still confident in this season. If defeat is still sickening then I can only assume that we won't have many this season. You expect the lads to go on another run of wins that will quickly make us forget the game. I like the fact that whenever we lose, Sir Alex asks for a response from his players. That is what a team going for the the title does.

As far as the performance is concerned, well, it was not the worst of the season because with a better referee and a little bit of luck, we could have won the game. Our through balls were intercepted at the last minute by Liverpool's defence and the ref kept giving the home side soft free-kicks in the opening half whilst the likes of Lucas were let off a number of times. However, I thought Ferdidand was easily dealt with by Torres for the opener. The England centre half could and should have done better.
Vidic got his third consecutive red-card against Liverpool. The only concern there should not be for how long he'll be out but rather if that will keep playing on his mind for as long as he is in a game against Liverpool.
Valencia was unlucky as his hot came off the bar. EVDS survived a horrific tackle from that hyena Mascherano. It was really dramatic---nuff said!

We take on Barnsley tomorrow in the Carling Cup--and all eyes will be on Gabriel Obertan's debut for United. Could he be the answer to our problems on the wings? It's a chance for us to quickly put the defeat to the Dippers behind us and I really hope that we do.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

THE CURSE OF THE FORM BOOK---LIVERPOOL VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


If there is one thing that makes me sick in football, it's the way in which it can turn around and give you a kick in the teeth. Ahead of this tie, Liverpool's problems are well documented. Four straight defeats in all competitions have left Rafa in a sort of job comma. The club has also failed to shake off the board-room problems. Injuries to their only two players (Torres, and Gerrard) have made it impossible to hide their weaknesses on pitch. One or both could return for this game and boy how they are desperate for a win.
I fifth league defeat by the start of November would only serve to remind me that Liverpool are back to being themselves---remember Geraard Houllier days when by the end of October, they had fallen so far behind that it was a case of who between Arsenal and United would win the league.

The one funny stat is that even during those troublesome Houllier days, the Dippers used to surprise United with one or two unexpected defeats. It was a trend that was ended by Diego Forlan (remember that X-mas gift from Dudeck).
You see the thing is, Liverpool has performed so poorly in the last four games that they can't do any worse tomorrow. That means we will probably have to be at our very best to keep out what I would in this case call a wounded animal. It's up to us to make sure thy remain with no teeth. The goals we conceded last season there were basically as a result of giving in to their hurried style. Giggs should never have done hat he did and you thought that EVDS and brown could have dealt with their equaliser much better.
The pressure is on them again to come at u and look for the win, and whilst it's also on us to get the win that returns us to the top of the league, a point would still be an improvement on last season's result (I mean we got nothing out of 6 against them!).
For the love of all that is good and holy in this world, I hope Fergie was just kidding when he hinted that Rooney still has to prove his fitness for the game. I mean we need him for this one. Giggs should start, and so should the likes of Fletcher, Carrick and Berbatov. I really hope that Fergie keeps the defence first choice. Now Vidic has been sent off in each of the last times we've met the Dippers so fingers crossed he does last 90 minutes for this one.
Obviously there will be a motive to avenge last season's defeats. This game is as to England what Madrid and Barca is to Spain--so I mean it when I say the stakes are high! That's why we the fans shall be doing our very best to sneak in with beach-balls and give the Kop end a good run for their....don't even know what to add there!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

UNITED zzzZZZ THEIR WAY PAST CASKA MOSCOW---THE REVIEW!




Yeah so it was not by any stretch a good game of football--blame that on the pitch, not on United at least! Sir Alex, as expected, flooded the midfield and let CSKA figure out a way past us. They didn't, and late on he brought on Owen, changed to the conventional 4-4-2 and with a few minutes left, a good build up involving Nani and Berbatov led to Valencia getting us the goal that won us the game and put us virtually through the group stages. It's three games left and we need only a point to be sure.

As far as our performance is concerned, I was not too bothered, but I still feel that our defence needs to be more certain. We seem to be shaky when the opposition has a go at us. I really hope that Rio and Vida can get more games together so that they rebuild their understanding. In times ahead, we shall need results similar to that we got in Moscow--where you rely on your defence to actually win you the match. We've done it so well in the last couple of seasons so I trust that we can emulate that solidity.

Many United fans and friends alike who were watching the game with me were calling for the head of Nani. They actually don't mind if we sell him off by January. Regular readers of this blog will also appreciate that I've been too critical on him these past few weeks but I've been watching a certain aspect of his game that has impressed me. I mean I got tired of waiting for some sort of tricks and flicks from Nani that I started noting what I should call, other facets to his game. Let's face it, he's not as consistent as we expect him to be but we can't say that we don't benefit at all from his presence on pitch. I been watching him closely this season and ow I can comfortably say that he really does try to get back the ball when he loses it. I mean if you sit and replay the game, you'd realise that the Portuguese was playing some sort of Darren Fletcher role. I know that is not what we expect of him but I'm not as disappointed in him now that I realise that he does add us something that even Ronaldo did not give us at all. I mean at least we can sit more comfortably when he loses the ball compared to when Ronaldo lost it. The fact that he has had a hand in our last two away Champions League games will improve his life, but you feel that he must start putting away some of the chances he gets. Valencia's two goals in two games have driven away the critics for a while. Nani should probably buy himself some time and notch in one or two.

Wes Brown made an appearance in the game, coming on for Rio but I'm wondering when Sir Alex will finally restore him to the right-back slot that worked so well for him in our 'Double Champions' season of 2007/2008. John O'Shea remains just good cover for me and I feel that Brown can provide more of an attacking threat down the right.

Anyhow, it's the Dippers on Sunday and boy what prospects lie ahead for us. I mean imagine we inflict on them a, what, fifth defeat in a row? Oh and I forgot, this is really their year! Hah!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

CSKA MOSCOW VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!




An early preview for our next game! It's Moscow and most of us should remember the weird time for kick-off that Russian ties provide. It will be 5.30 pm in Manchester and 7.30pm where I am now when United kick-off at a venue we would all like to think of as our home! I mean when you consider the luck that we had on that pitch a couple of years ago, you'd think we had it charmed in our favour. Many of my friends have actually taken time off to look at the Champions League final video 2008, and it's still hard to believe that Drogba hit the post late in the second half at 1-1, then Lampard hit the bar in extra-time still at 1-1, then the Drog gets sent off before the shoot-out, and we think it's not advantage anyway, then Ronaldo (of all people) misses his kick, then EVDS can only help Ashley Cole's shot in, then Nani only just manages to keep us in the tie, and then the mother of all luck smiles upon us--John Terry misses Chelsea's clinching kick, then Anderson blasts us in the lead once again, then Giggs gives us match point and finally EVDS fools Anelka by pointing one way and diving the other way, the right way, then all of us forget our religions, customs, family and (for me) problems and unite in the heavenly glory of European Cup success! You can't say that Sir Matt Busby and the Busby Babes didn't have a hand in proceedings that night. Michael Carrick reckons that it was his best night and but for the miracles of '99, it would be top of my list as well!

Anyway, this is supposed to be a preview post---we are lacking a little over 5 senior players for this one and that must be largely because of the game on Sunday! CSKA are one of those sides that will punish you when the opportunity presents itself. They rarely let you off the hook. In that respect I won't see a point from this game as bad at all. Having said that, we still have the squad to win there, and it can only help that we go to Anfield on the back of a win!

Monday, 19 October 2009

SIR ALEX CHARGED, UNITED REVIST THE LUZHNIKI STADIUM!







I've deliberately been quiet about the Sir Alex and Riley rant that has been having rounds over the last couple of weeks, largely because I'm never surprised by Sir Alex's rants at referees. I'm at pains to actually remember the last time United had a season without the old Gaffer getting baned for at least a couple of games for surely the same reason. Let's face it, it's part of United's season! I mean isn't it a common image seeing Fergie in the stands on the phone instructing the assistants on what sub to make?
Anyway, we'll miss his influence if he does get as big as a 5 match touchline ban. No doubt about that!

On a more football front, we've got CASKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday and it's gutting that Giggs, Rooney, Evra, and Fletcher are among the lads unable to make it there. You do wonder if Sir Alex has Liverpool in mind. I wouldn't blame him though as we only need four points to make it through the group--and who cares who finishes top, last season we got top and got ourselves a draw fit enough for the final at the last 16 stage!
United will be returning to one of the most historic destinations in the club's illustrious history. We'll certainly will never forget that slip by Mr Chelsea!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

HA! HA! HA!


THAT WAS MORE LIKE UNITED!---MAN UNITED VS BOLTON REVIEW!


Forget the fact that there was role reversal towards the end whereby the away side was looking for a late equaliser at Old Trafford, this league is not as easy as many think it is. United, nonetheless did play like United. I mean you only have to look at the video of the game against Sunderland and compare with that of yesterday to appreciate what I mean. Right from the first whistle, our lads clicked and went in search of goals and I must say that but for Jaaskalenean, it could have been a more comfortable afternoon for United.
The goals came from a Zhat Night deflection and a first for the club for Mr. Antonio Valencia who must have read one or two things about him on this blog and thence upped his game. His speed was vital for us as it complemented Giggs vision and intelligence on the other side.

Now this is not for a full match report, but rather to make one or two notes.
You have to feel for Berbatov because this lad does really make us tick upfront and yet the goals do not flow for him as much as he and all of us would like. I don't know how many point-blank chances he had to score in the derby but Given somehow kept him out. He was so good yesterday that you thought he deserved a goal. First Owen unfortunately got in the way of what could have been a superb goal in the first half, then the Bolton keeper somehow kept out his acrobatic volley in the second half. I really think the team is more like United when Berba is in. He does complement the talents of both Owen and Rooney.

Anderson did well in midfield--he tends to blow hot and cold these days. Ferdinand more like himself at the back--whether this was because of the return of EVDS is something that we'll never know. It was gutting not to keep a clean sheet, but when you consider what the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool went through in their respective games, we'll take the win as edgy as it was.
Top of the league again! One really hopes that we stay there much longer than we did a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

A FEW MORE NOTES...


I've been quite engaged in my work this past week and so I have not had the time to follow our players on International duty. There have also been one or two reserve games that were important for various reasons.
Regular readers of this blog might be aware of the concern I have voiced towards our wingers given their inability to provide regular service to the attack. I thought that maybe the pressure is so much on Nani and Valencia to perform. I suggested that it was time that Fergie took a chance on another youngster in Zoran Tosic. I know the public opinion is that he still needs to grow some physique before he can get in the grove but I disagree. I mean I think this lad will not go down as much as Ronaldo did when he was touched in 2004. Besides, sometimes that physique is built by being involved a lot. Take a case of the likes of Walcott and Fabregas when they joined the Arsenal first team, what doesn't Tosic have physically that those two had.
Sometimes I look at the way he performs for his country and I wonder how good he can be if he had ten other good players around him every week! He, unlike Nani and Valencia seems to have a better goals per games ratio.

Gabriel Obertan made his comeback for the reserves as well and his brilliant touches as well as speed mark him down as one of those players we can't wait to see play for us. His arrival was not so much hailed--in fact, the arrival of Michael Owen was hailed even more than his, and yet he could be about to rock Old Trafford with his brilliance.
The return of Rafael and Hargo means that United should be stronger towards the half-way point of the season. In the meantime, we can only hope that the players we have remain fit. The only problem is that this will make Fergie rotate the squad more often than he has ever done, and though this has it's plus points, it can sometimes turn against you.
We the fans can only hope that it is onwards and upwards for United!

A MUST WIN GAME FOR UNITED---MAN UNITED VS BOLTON PREVIEW!

Let me just get this out of the way; every game is a must-win for United. I wrote in my preview for Sunderland that we could drop points in this one if we had won against Sunderland, so considering that we didn't, this game stands out as a very important league fixture, especially when you consider that our next stop is Anfield. We do have the beating of Bolton but there is something in our ranks that has not quite clicked yet. I really hope that for starters, our players can pass the ball to each other more often than we witnessed against Sunderland. I also pray that the likes of Nan and Valencia can put more crosses into the box more often than they have been doing all season. This could turn out to be one of those games where we need somebody to stand up and provide the enthusiasm that Wayne provides. He's ruled out (f*** luck) so we don't have him available till next week. Owen is back, but I wonder if he will be up to the task of playing the entire match. Berba will be our focal point of attack. There is no reason as to why Giggs shouldn't play, but perhaps Fletcher could miss out because of a bruise in midweek.
Thank God that EVDS is back! That's one goal less conceded when he's around. We've missed him! Our home form and our defence have won us the title over the last few seasons so I it's imperative that we don't let in more goals at the back and that we don't show the visiting sides the respect that we've showed the likes of Birmingham, Sunderland and even City!
We also can't afford to get any further back behind a Chelsea team that looks to be the real threat to our trophy. So Come on United!

Friday, 9 October 2009

LETTER TO SIR ALEX!


Okay, this is nothing next to an official letter, but I feel there are a few things that I feel Sir Alex has to address before we get into another chapter of the new season. Without wasting any more space on this blog, here goes...

Ben Foster needs some time to get back his confidence and the 'big stage' is not the best place for him to recover it. The lad needs some time off--another loan spell could do for him. Tomaz K is a more confident goalkeeper and even though he is not the best, he could do a job for us as EVDS's deputy. This season we've already let in a third of the goals we conceded the whole of last season so we need to tighten up a bit at the back if we are to maintain our status as title challengers.

Antonio Valencia and Nani are not yet at the level where they can command places in our team, I therefore feel that even Zoran Tosic should have a go on the wing as he might just turn out to be our answer. Forget his age, because we forgot Giggs and Ronaldo's ages when they joined the first team. Secondly, we seem to lack that little bit of creativity when Giggs is not in the team. What does that say about our creative players? In the same breath, I have to add that Berbatov has really carried the creative spark for us even when Giggs is not around. He deserves a pat on the back. It must be obvious now that until the rest of our creative midfielders click, we cannot afford to have both Giggs and Berba out of the team at the same time.

We...well...I do appreciate the fact that you have rotated our squad. However, I feel that the defenders, when fit should stay the same. You see defending is a little bit more complex than any other thing in football. You probably know that, so I wonder why Ferdinand and Vidic cannot continue their fruitful partnership when both are fit. I thought that at Sunderland both should have played. Throughout the game, we seemed as though we couldn't defend.

As far as the attack is concerned, I think Berba and Rooney will work for us.
Hope this letter reaches you!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

POST MATCH NOTES.




Sir Alex, in his post-match notes, reckons that Alan Wiley is unfit. He also says that there should have been a fifth minute of stoppage time given the goal celebrations for our equaliser.
Come to think of it, he's right on both counts but we had 90 minutes to get three points and we wasted half of the time sleeping. The moral for United should be that the first half is also pat of a football match.