Friday, 30 January 2009

THE MOST CRUCIAL GAME OF OUR SEASON---MAN UNITED VS EVERTON PREVIEW!


Obviously I'm aware that United have tougher and more imperative fixtures ahead but they will only be made important if we do not win tomorrow against Everton.

After taking the chance to go clear with both hands, we need to cement our position as the undisputed leaders of the Premier League. Rio Ferdinand has definitely got that in mind if what I'm reading in the press is anything to go by.

Ideally, we would all have liked to play this next fixture on Monday night--after analysing the outcome of the Liverpool-Chelsea game on Sunday, but we might as well be lucky that we are playing before them.

Given that both our rivals are 2 points behind us, and if the fixture was for Monday, we could have gone into that fixture off the top of the league. That, in my mind, is more pressure on our part as we would be desperate for the three points to take us back to the top.

As it turns out, we now have the chance to heap more pressure on our rivals ahead of their titanic clash.

A win for us would mean that either way we shall benefit from the game as at least one team will drop points from the game. The greatest incentive for us to win though should be that we might find ourselves four points clear of both should the game end in a stalemate.
Having said all that, it's going to be a rather difficult game for us tomorrow. If some called the trip to the Hawthorns difficult, this one will be DIFFICULT!
Everton have are on a run of 5 games against Liverpool(3), Arsenal and ourselves but interestingly, they are yet to concede more than a goal and have not yet got beaten.
They've got no strikers but Tim Cahill and Arteta alongside Fellani are quite a handful for any side. Cahill scored in the same fixture last season while Fellani has already breached the United defence.
The return of some of our key players should boost us to victory though.
United need to remain focused on the job at hand. Sir Alex reckons that pundits will claim United are already champions and yet we have lost and won championships on the last day of the league season. It can be a plain sailing victory for United if concentration is maintained.
Meanwhile Vidic has been banned for only a game in the CL--should be kind of good news for us!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

JUST ABOUT THE PERFECT WEEK FOR UNITED!


The only thing that can sour the mood at Carrington this week is that meeting that UEFA's disciplinary committee will have to determine how long Vidic will be missing for United in the Champions League.
Before that anyhow, United have enjoyed the perfect three weeks that a tittle chasing club can have.
It's still January but so was it when United occupied third place at the start of the year 7 points adrift of bitter rivals Liverpool. A consistent run of narrow victories was followed up with a goals galore victory over West Brom yesterday to shoot United head and shoulders above the rest of the Premiership pack.
In between that run, United came under attack from the Liverpool manager (in what will now go down in history as the 'Rafa Rant'---even more popular than that of Keegan). Apparently, in his eyes, United were getting favourable punishment from the authorities.
Even though many a Liverpool fans are resisting to accept the notion that Rafa was feeling the pressure, a lot has happened since then to suggest so.
Kevin Keegan's Newcastle dropped a 12 point lead and allowed United to win the title then. Flash forward to 2009 and amazingly, Liverpool have not won a game sine Benitez let fly. Three-weeks ago, Liverpool were top, 7 points ahead of United but before we end the month, United are talking about a possible 5 point lead over their rivals come Saturday. It's a shame.
Now back to United, the game against Everton has just become more important than what we did on Tuesday night. A win would mean that come what may, we shall benefit from the game between Liverpool and Chelsea on Sunday. We could even establish a 4 point lead if the game ends all square.
It certainly will not be that easy on our part as well--as the preview tomorrow will tell!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

BERBA LEADS UNITED INTO GEAR 5!--WEST BROM VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


An exhilarating exhibition of counter-attacking football saw United move clear at the summit of the League table--beating the basement club West Brom 0-5.
One of the many reasons as to why I admire Sir Alex is because he never lets everything out to the press. He spent the weekend lamenting about the number of bodies in the United treatment room and yet he alone knew that three of his injured players would recover in time for the match. Whilst everyone got talking about Fletcher playing at right-back and Neville in Central defence, Sir Alex went about surprising fans and haters alike by naming Park, Ferdinand, and Wes Brown in the team--Just what we needed.
After approaching the game with a little pessimism, I certainly got confident when the teams came out. Park is naturally a creative force, Giggs is naturally a genius and Rio is naturally a leader.
United took the lead through Berbatov who I must say has finally silenced his critics. Sir Alex backed the Bulgarian to come good after Wayne's injury and he has certainly come good--just about in time. His calam goals and link-up play sort of take the nerves out of our team and suddenly everyone is playing with such composure!
Carlos Tevez is definitely not a player to sit on the bench. He has given us that engine power that Wayne Rooney gives us. A couple of goals plus millions of energy watts have ensured that we remain a threat upfront in all games we have been without Rooney.
For me, Giggs has not ha a bad game this season and there is something about him taking corner-kicks that United like. His corner kicks have yielded the most goals this season. Vidic and Ronaldo certainly approve of that.
The Serbian has now netted as many goals as you can ever hope for from a centre-back in in a season--we will miss him at the San Siro (but hopefully only for that one). Ronaldo has now netted twice in a game for United 21 times. He certainly looked over the moon after scoring his goals. The golden boot award is up for grabs this season as there are not many up for it so a scoring run till the end of the season could win him yet another accolade.
Then there is that League record that Van Der Sar now holds for number of minutes gone without conceding a goal. Long may that continue! Our record at the back started with a 5-0 drubbing of Stoke so hopefully it will not end with a 5-0 rout of West Brom.
It's certainly a happy day for United--Over to you Brucey!

Monday, 26 January 2009

CHANCE TO GO 3 POINTS CLEAR!--WEST BROMSWICH ALBION VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


The games come thick and fast for Manchester United. Next up is a an all important Premier League tie for against West Brom at the Hawthorns.
The Baggies have been in recent form lately and I daresay we might be in for a little surprise tomorrow. They might be at the bottom of the league but they have won as many games as the 9th placed team. At the start of the season, such games are as easy as you would like but not at this end of the season! WBA are in a relegation fight and believe me you, they will be more difficult to beat than they were a few months ago. I really hope that United get their act together and get the job done.
I wonder what team Sir Alex has for tomorrow because the amount of injuries tat we have at the moment suggest that as many as 5 players will not be playing in their usual position. A clean sheet will mean that our makeshift defence will set a new Premier League record of 11 consecutive clean sheets.
Victory will mean that we will go three points clear and hence heap more pressure on Liverpool going into their fixture with Wigan on Wednesday. The incentive is certainly there--wish I could say the same thing about the players!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

UNITED DRAW DERBY/NOTTINGHAM FOREST!


United have been drawn away in the FA Cup and this time, we could face Derby again at Pride Park. The Championship side will fancy themselves as we have struggled on their pitch in the past and they have already beaten us there in the FA Cup. Hopefully, Forest will win the replay and hence make the game a little easier. The ties will be played on the weekend of February 14 and 15th--Not ideal for the girls who will be without their men for Valentines Day!

ANOTHER GAME OUT OF THE WAY, BUT MORE INJURIES FOR UNITED---MAN UNITED VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR REVIEW!


If there is anyone who at any one point doubted the strength in depth of Manchester United, here's some news for you: Sir Alex will be without 11 established players for his the visit to the Hawthorns on Tuesday evening--and yet he will still have substitutes wanting to come on from his bench. It's certainly not a scenario that Manchester United fans would want but fate robbed us of two more bodies during the FA Cup tie with Spurs yesterday. Dannny Welbeck and Fabio da Silva will join another 9 players on the sidelines. There are a few United fans who must be cursing our progress in the Cup competitions as we are really running short of fuel for the league run-in. Such is the fixture congestion for United that the worst result we could have got yesterday was not a defeat but a draw. Thankfully, we did avoid the draw and hopefully, the Merseyside Derby will not end in draw as we would have lost our advantage of playing Eveton on a Monday next week.

About the game, United did get the usual shock that has been accustomed with the visit of Harry Redknapp to OT. I was particularly thankful that United conceded the goal quite early as that usually awakens us. If Pompey last season had scored as early as Spurs did yesterday, we would surely have got the goal we looked so desperately for.

Carrick was provider for both Scholes and Berbatov to turn the game on its head. However, United tend to slow down when they are back in control and that is the only explanation to a boring second half. It seemed as though players wanted to conserve some of their energy for Tuesday and who can blame them. There is however one point of concern for me and that is United's reluctance to shoot from out of the box more often. Clearly, our two goals came from shots outside the box so I was rather disappointed to see the lads try to break the Spurs defence even within the six yard box. This is where I urge the midfielders to pick the mantle from Paul Scholes and shoot often regardless of how many players are blocking the view of goal--deflections are another method of getting goals!
And as I blog-off, I get the terrible news from Anfield. Liverpool and Everton is a stalemate again so we'll have to play our game against the Blues on a Saturday instead of a Monday! It's sad as we could use a couple of days of rest. Ten there is the incentive of playing them when we know the Chelsea-Liverpool result! Hard-luck!

Friday, 23 January 2009

ANOTHER ROUTE TO WEMBLY?---MAN UNITED VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR PREVIEW!




You'd have to feel for him! Sir Alex looked like he would fall sick any minute as he announced to the press a list of a squad of players at the treatment table down at Carrington. Since they left for Monaco to take part in that good for nothing Super Cup, United have played two games in each of the weeks scheduled for club football.
Quite inevitably, we've had to lose players to injury, but what still puzzles me and probably the old gaffer is manner in which we've got them. United do have the kind of team that can handle a number of injuries even throughout an entire league campaign but the manner in which they have hit our stars is defeating. I mean, there are some positions that have both senior and deputy injured--and that's just one position!
An alarming total of 10 players will sit out the home Cup tie against Spurs. Interestingly, many fans are not about to give a **** about the FA Cup so they are only nterested in seeing which side will line up against West Brom in the league on Tuesday. Those are the same fans talking about winning 5 trophies at the end of the season.
So I beg to differ. Manchester United are the record winners of the Cup and so we should always be looking to defend our record in it. It's one competition where we can claim more triumphs than Liverpool. It's also relatively long(2004) since we last won it. I know we've been very unlucky in the finals we've been in since then but there is nothing wrong with continuing to have a go!
Darren Fletcher will join a defence consisting of only Vidic as a first team defender. Tevez, Ronaldo, and Berbatov will start while Carrick, Scholes and Giggs will complete a line-up that will be strong in attack but weak behind. It certainly is a good enough team to win.
If there is any motivation that the players needed to win the match, it's that Spurs will not be up for it. Redknapp has already made it clear that he will not risk any player he feels is vital as far as their League survival is concerned. I'd like to to think that it will be weaker than the team Burnley nearly humiliated on Wednesday night. Besides, the sleepy-eyed fella has had a fair share of Cup victories against us dating back to the past Millennium so why not end it already?

Thursday, 22 January 2009

LOOKING AHEAD...


Last night, it was heart-breaking sight as Burnley suffered the cruel twist of fate. Having done so well to overturn a 4-1 first-leg deficit, miraculously recovered after 2 hours of football to set up a Carling Cup final with United come March 1.
Not that United care who they meet in the final, but the Championship side deserved to get everything positive from the game. They were undone by a slight loss of concentration.
Anyhow, so it's Spurs who we face in both domestic Cup competitions.
Last year, we beat them at OT at in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, so hopefully it will turn out the same. In any case, it's a home tie and I would expect that United--regardless of our shortages, will be up for it.
The final on March 1 depends on a lot of things. What's for sure though is that we will know the true importance of that final by the time it comes around! By then, we will have played Inter Milan in the CL and we'll have a better understanding of how the league table will end up. We'll also know if we stand a chance in the FA Cup as the semi-finals will be around that time. If we are still in with a big shout in all those competitions, then the final must just be looked at as a distraction from 'major duties'. However, should things fall apart in the coming month(God forbid!) then we might as well find ourselves taking the final with both hands.
What's for certain though is that our home league fixture against Pompey on 28th February has been cancelled so the search for a re-arranged date starts.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

UNITED GET THE JOB DONE BUT ISN'T IT A BLOW TOO HARD THAT UNITED HAVE TAKEN?--MAN UNITED VS DERBY COUNTY REVIEW!






Last night would have been a night for heart-stopping celebrations if one or two extra things had gone our way.
United went into the game a goal down following their first leg "failure to turn up" performance.
What I prayed for even before kick-off was an early goal as I knew the longer we took to score, the stronger Derby would get--and what a goal we got for the opener! Luis Nani--who has been criticised on this blog for failing to develop gave me a reminder of what he is capable of. The lad has certainly banged in a few pile-drivers since joining but his failure to make it a more regular occurrence is what has frustrated many a United fans this season. For as long as it's only his second season, he'll always get the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, we'll get to see more performances from him like the one we saw last night.
John O'Shea did well to get himself a goal. If there is one thing that he has that Evra doesn't it's to stick the ball in the back of the net. Unfortunately for him, that's just about as much as he does have. Given that somewhere in him he has a goal, the manager will always keep him.
Tevez, as expected,bagged yet another goal in the Carling Cup and I'm beginning to wonder if there is a golden boot for this tournament. He certainly deserves it. He certainly isn't complaining any more given the number of games he's played these past 10 days. He's already a sure starter on Saturday evening, but I bet he's been having all this energy in him to burn since the season started.
Ronaldo sealed our progress with a penalty. I'm not too concerned about the goals we conceded as they were merely academic. What bothers me though is the ill-luck we are getting as far as injuries are concerned. Anderson, Nani, Evans, and Rafael joined an already long list of casualties yesterday. It's getting very bleak as far as our strongest squad at the moment is concerned! I know we are one of the teams with strength in depth but we do not have strength beneath depth. If our fringe players start picking up injuries, then you wonder where the reserve energy will come from. We go into the clash with Spurs on Saturday in the FA Cup without Evra, Ferdinand, Rooney, Rafael, Anderson---I mean it's getting a little ridiculous!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

IT'S NOW OR NEVER FOR THE YOUNG LADS!--MAN UNITED VS DERBY COUNTY PREVIEW!


I've already had my say as far as this game is concerned. Manchester United's second string of players has to stand up and be counted after a dismal showing in the first leg of this fixture. This is one game where one goal will not do for us as we are already trailing in this fixture. Sir Alex has already said he will still rely on the young lads for the second leg so hopefully, they'll be up to the task. Some could find themselves loaned out if we get knocked out tonight as the rest of the competitions basically demand a first team. A trip to Wembly Stadium is the prize for the kids should they make it through. Two goals or more against a struggling Derby should not be something impossible to ask from them. Yes they'll be up for it but so should we. We're at home and so we should play with the authority of World Champions. Spurs put a Championship side in their place with a home demolition job of Burnley. It's time we do the same. It's Silverware at stake here and given the level of competition these days, you can never turn down an opportunity to win a Cup. Hopefully, the boys at Carrington are listening!

HE'S CRACKIN UP FASTER THAN MR. FER GOO SSON(the only ma nayer in the league..) EXPECTED!


Did Fergie think it would be that quick? Certainly not! For whatever reason Benitez staked his claims about Mr. Fer goo sson, we'll never know but every other weekend, it seems to be the worst move he's ever made--almost as bad as signing a contract with the Dippers.
A 1-1 draw with their bitter rivals Everton has promoted Manchester United as official leaders of the Barclays Premiership for the next two weeks at least. Everyone in Anfield must have thought that their defence was as good as United's as far as keeping clean sheets is concerned. They scored quite early compared to their rivals over the weekend and you would think they'd probably go for the second goal to kill off the game. Instead they opted for a 1-0 result that United have been getting only courtesy of their well established defence. Their zonal marking system left Tim Cahill (God bless the soul) unmarked in the six yard box and as fate would have it, Liverpool dropped yet another couple of points at home! You cannot ignore THE REAL FACTS, Liverpool are feeling the pressure of being top of the league at this stage!

Monday, 19 January 2009

IT'S TWO GAMES A WEEK FOR MANCHESTER UNITED--BRING ON DERBY!


No question about the fact that the busiest club in Europe now is Manchester United. After fighting their way to the summit of the English Premiership, United now turn their attention to Cup duty. The Carling Cup second-leg against Derby County presents a chance for the youngsters to win themselves a trip to Wembly Stadium on March 1. More on that in the preview but one wonders how many United fans still have finger nails.
Watching the team scrap 1-0 wins in the most dramatic of circumstances has certainly not helped. Many of us are torn between which of the remaining 4 trophies we should win this season. It's a big ask to win all so definitely a choice has to be made. The Carling Cup right now seems the easiest to bag as a we could easily hop past Derby(on our day) and meet Spurs in the final--which definitely would never be the most difficult of finals for us.
Sir Alex has already said he will not risk the League for the Carling Cup so that definitely tells us one or two things about his aim. Of course there is always the European Cup which we shall give a shot come Feb.
Ideally nobody will be complaining if we add another couple of trophies to what we have already won this season. We cannot, however, end the season empty handed given all the fronts we are challenging on. Perhaps the FA Cup sounds better to others.
BUT AGAIN WHY NOT DEFY HISTORY AND MAKE HISTORY BY WINNING ALL OF THEM!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

UNITED KNOCK LIVERPOOL OFF THEIR PERCH!--BOLTON VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


I posted earlier on in my preview that I wouldn't complain if United won yet another game 1-0--in fact, I'm grateful we that we won 1-0. Forget Rafa's facts, one solid one is that the Premier League is a hard league. More often than not, it's all about getting the points rather than putting in a great show of football. It's why the likes of Arsenal are finding it difficult to create a balance between swashbuckling displays and result winning performances. Thankfully, Manchester United is not one dimensional and will, more often than not, seek to grind out results without playing all too well.
Bolton were always going to be the kind of opposition that would defend and invite us to break them down. But for their goalkeeper, the job would have been done within the first half. It was good to see Ronaldo put all his free kicks on target and also see Anderson try the outrageous drive that could have gifted him a first goal for United. I thought Tevez did offer as much energy upfront as Wayne does. He actually is another version of Wayne only that he will not defend as much as the former does. Tevez actually worked well with Berba upfront--teeing up each other, only to be foiled by a flag-happy linesman.
We showed more urgency in the second period and boy what we could have given to see the back of the Bolton net shake. Sir Alex jokingly revealed that his latest tactic is to get a player stripped on the bench and then watch what the team reaction is. Danny Welbeck was getting ready to come on for Tevez upfront. It only needed the ball to go out of play and the lad would have come on. Fergie will be grateful that he didn't make the change as Tevez(who was supposed to come off) made a remarkable contribution of beating 2 defenders and and crossing for Berbatov to easily head in the three pointer. The two lads combined well to see us to victory at the Britannia stadium on Boxing Day. Yesterday, their brilliance won us a match that was certainly heading for a stalemate. Maybe there is nothing to fear as regards how our three main strikers operate and co-operate. For Berba, he must be feeling a huge sigh of relief following the recent bellows from fans about his contribution. He is the Premier League's assist leader and is now getting us goals that are winning games for us. Pundits must now be having few complaints. I certainly have none!
The win takes us to he summit of the league for the first time since May when we won it--but my goodness isn't the pressure on the Dippers. Anything less than a win tomorrow and the bookmakers will toss them out of the window as far as the league title is concerned!

Friday, 16 January 2009

UNITED AGAINST THE ODDS AT BOLTON--BOLTON VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


The strain of playing 9 games in 30 days is beginning to take it's toll on United. Tevez, Evans, Ronaldo and Rooney suffered from knocks in the mid-week victory over Wigan. Having lost Ferdinand to injury, we now await news of Jonny Evans' fitness ahead of the trip to the Reebok.
At some point this season, it looked impossible to have both Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez injured, and yet that is also a possibility should the Argentine International fail a fitness test today. It's ill-luck and besides the opposition tomorrow, that's one factor we shall have to overcome. Fergie has backed Berba to show his class in the absence of Wayne so hopefully that will be the case as we must try to unpark the bus that Bolton will park in front of their goal tomorrow. I think we'll need the strength of Anderson more in the middle. I don't know if the likes of Giggs and Scholes and Neville will cope with the aggression of Bolton. Kevin Davies can hurt a wrestler so Fergie will have to work that out.
Regardless of the problems we have, this is one game we must not spurn--the prize---top of the league! If we really want Liverpool to feel the pressure of being top, we must start swapping positions with them pretty soon. So hopefully, the lads will be up for it tomorrow. I will not complain if we win yet another game 1-0. This season, a number of teams have stepped up their performances so the minimum requirement will do! News coming in suggests that Manucho has joined Hull on loan for the rest of the seasson. Good for him!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

A CASE OF A SOUR WIN--MAN UNITED VS WIGAN REVIEW!


Not even I will complain about the lack of a goal feast in this match. The fact is that Manchester United in the end (or rather at the start), got he job done! We went into the match yesterday with all intentions of getting 3 points so our main objective was achieved.
Once again Nemanja Vidic displayed a man of the match performance. This lad is fast becoming our player of the season! At this rate, you only have to pity the fact that defenders are not usually given the praise they deserve, otherwise he can easily be the PFA Player of the Year come May. With such assured defending, United can be confident going into matches as they know they'll always be one goal away from winning the match. We shall miss him in the CL. Hopefully, it won't be for more than a game. Vidic was my man of the match yesterday and long may his outstanding performances continue!
Now, there is a little cause for concern as far as Manchester United is concerned--Wayne Rooney played for just over 5 minutes, got the goal, but limped off with a ham string injury. It was sheer bad-luck but thankfully, we've got a player like Tevez on the bench.
However, no United fan is looking forward to watching 5 games without Wayne Rooney. He is the engine of the team so one cannot help but look nervously at those fixtures. Yes, they are winnable, but didn't last season show us what the absence of Wayne could do to our team? Last season, he missed our trip to the Reebok Stadium and unfortunately, he'll miss out again. He's got a good record against Bolton so that is a minus for us as far as Saturday is concerned. We dropped points in all the games he missed out last season so hopefully, we'll get through this time better. Tevez and Berbatov are meanwhile going to lead the attacking front.
Yesterday's match proved yet again the importance of Berbatov to the team. He is not just a striker, he's a playmaker! He brings the rest of the team into the game and so often lays off unselfish passes to them. If we have to get our passing game going, this man has to be on pitch!(Or at least have both Carrick and Scholes on ). Berba put in a splendid performance last night and was unlucky not to be rewarded with a goal.
After starting (traditionally now) very poorly, United have climbed to second place on the league standings even with a game less. It's testament to our form at present but I fear the worst as injuries start to set in. Rio, Evra, and Rooney will be missed for a couple of weeks or so. Tevez was limping yesterday and so was Ronaldo and Evans. Hopefully, they are shaken off in time as we'll need all the firepower we can gather for our trip to Bolton.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

NO ROOM FOR SLIP UPS!---MAN UNITED VS WIGAN ATHLETIC PREVIEW!




There are seasons before when a game against Wigan could easily be seen as a six-pointer, not this one however, as the Latics are one of 3 form teams in the league. 5 wins out of 6 is not something to under-estimate especially in a league that is unforgiving as the Barclays English Premier League.
Manchester United themselves head the form table--but that is largely been attributed to their defence that has gone over 11 hours of league football without letting in a goal. Incredibly, this has come to pass without a regular back 4. Therefore, the absence of Evra and Rio for a further couple of weeks should not affect us on that front.
Since August, we have been at least a game or two behind our rivals, claiming that our games in hand were more or less winnable. Well now it's time to actually let the actions speak. The players need to go into this game with the same determination and resolve they had on Sunday. The bitter truth is that Sunday's victory will count for nothing if we fail to collect three points tonight. Many claim that we dealt Liverpool a psychological blow with our performance on Sunday but that advantage has not yet been driven home. We have to capitalise with our extra games and actually show them how close we are by swapping positions temporarily at the summit of the table.
Hopefully we can. Yes We Can!
John O'Shea will deputise for Evra while Evans will keep his place as Rio is out. Garry may not be able to play two games in a week so Rafael da Silva will come in. Giggs will rest so Carrick should start with Anderson hopefully. Berbatov and Rooney upfront. But I'd like to see Fergie give Tevez games as he's one player I'll mourn over if we lose him. Maradonna has not helped us in that cause as he has solicited for the player's move to Inter Milan.
On a more joyous note, it's good that Wes Brown is near a return to action. I feel that we need to get him as match fit as possible as Vida will miss the San Siro clash next month.
BUT FIRST, LET'S GET WIGAN OUT OF THE WAY!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A MINOR CRISIS AT THE BACK!


Patrice Evra is--at the moment--irreplaceable at Manchester United. His replacements are not as assured as Jonny Evans is for Rio Ferdinand. Patrice will now sit out our next five to seven games while Rio will sit out the entire week's games. It's not something beyond Manchester United to find able replacements within their squad but it could account for the loss of our defensive record. United have been solid at he back in the past few games and I think the loss of both key defenders could hurt us. Hopefully I'm wrong. John O'Shea is a good defender but he offers little or nothing at all in attack. It's a testament to Evra's attacking instincts that he returned from suspension to claim an assist against Chelsea on Sunday. His departure could cost us as most of the teams we have to play might just sit back and invite us so we need all the attacking we can gather from the team.
Having said all that, the next 7 games for us are, on paper, winnable as far as Manchester United is concerned. I'd like to think that we can keep a clean sheet in all games against Wigan, Bolton, Derby, West Brom, Spurs, etc...
The assurance of a clean sheet gives any team a 60% chance of winning a game so hopefully, Vidic will see to that as he continues Nemanjizing opposition defences!
It was good to hear that his countryman and new signing Zoran Tosic is over the moon as far as joining United is concerned. Hopefully, he'll turn out to be as important to the team as Vida is!

CONGRATULATIONS RONALDO!


Last night, Cristiano Ronaldo did what no Premiership player has done since its inception--that is to land the FIFA World Player of The Year accolade. His achievements last season have clearly lifted him well above the rest of his professionals as he has also become the first to make a clean sweep of all individual honours at the age of 23. Thankfully, he's at the right club where the manager specialises in keeping young talents firmly on the ground. It was good for him to recognise Sir Alex as the engine behind his success as I truly believe he wouldn't have achieved all he has without the fiery Scott.
Ronaldo will now be the envy of Premier League greats such as Thierry Henry who failed to land the award at their peaks. In all context, the Madeira magician is yet to peak so hopefully, United can still reap big from him. A toast to Cristiano Ronaldo!

Monday, 12 January 2009

WHAT A RESULT! WHAT A PERFORMANCE!--MAN UNITED VS CHELSEA REVIEW!


Well, quite simply, Manchester United were exhilarating yesterday while Chelsea were lacklustre, to say the least.
What a shock it was to see the team that Fergie put out. No Ferdinand, no Carrick, no Scholes, no Anderson--it was more like 'Game Over' before a ball was kicked. Chelsea meanwhile put out their strongest eleven and it was made even stronger when Anelka joined Drogba in attack in the second half.
Much to the surprise of everyone, Ryan Giggs rolled back the years and had a blinder! It was clear that Fergie had gone for experience by starting both Neville and Giggs. If Giggs can still make the likes of Ballack absent in games then not many would complain if he was offered another contract extension--who cares if he plays 1000 games for United!
PERFORMANCE!
EVDS had his easiest game of the season as Chelsea hardly had any serious attempts at goal.
Garry justified his place in the starting line-up with a comfortable performance and boy does he know how to celebrate!
Vidic is quickly developing into a legend for United. He has yet again come up with a crucial goal for United. His goal at the stroke of half-time took the guts out of Chelsea and changed the team talk for both teams.
Evans has played both league games against Chelsea and he has not shown any signs of immaturity--he's an asset for the future.
Giggs for me was our man of the match. How he pulled it off yesterday is still a mystery in my book. Michael Carrick must have been impressed as well.
Fletcher did well enough to contain the likes of Mikel.
Park was our engine yesterday. No wonder others call him Man of the match!
Ronaldo, for the first time seems to have realised that he does not have to score to get plaudits. He had 2 goals wrongly disallowed but he was a real menace to the Chelsea back line. Nice ball whipped in to Berba for the third goal!
Rooney was as usual remarkable and did well to sneak a leg through for the killer goal.
Berbatov, is always class and so was he yesterday. A goal and an assist!
The win sets us up for the Wigan game in hand on Wednesday so hopefully, we'll get the job done. Our defending in the league has been close to invincible in the past few games so I'd like to think it's up to the forwards to do their part. We play twice before Liverpool play again so it's a good chance to take the lead for the first time this season! Having said all that, one can't help but spare a thought for poor Rafa Benitez!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

THE MAGIC OF SIR ALEX AS LIVERPOOL SHOW FAULT-LINES ALREADY!


Ha! I mean who would have known it? Fergie infuriates Rafa so much that the Spaniard can't help it but spend almost his entire press conference whining about the FA favouring Fergie instead of planning for his side's next game--the result, Liverpool drop points at Stoke and hence hand the initiative to Manchester United. United will go on top if they win their 3 games in hand! It's the oldest trick in Fergie's book but I wonder why managers keep on buying into his mind games. Like I said earlier, if ' Pool do not win the league this season, then it will be down to their very own fat Spanish waiter!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

THE GREATEST GAME ON EARTH--MAN UNITED VS CHELSEA PREVIEW!




Well, well, well what do you know! How hilarious things can get in the incredible series that is the English Premier League. So Rafa--the fat Spanish waiter--comes u with an A4 sheet at his press conference and rants about United and Sir Alex for 90% of his press conference. My! I actually never thought Fergie's mind games would have such an effect on rivals--Forget Keegan, that was rash--this guy must have spent the entire week working out the stats so as to assure himself that he's actually not playing mind games. To be honest, it might work for him(God forbid) as refs will now think 10 times before giving anything to United but should the Dippers collapse, that press conference video will surely do well as far as Moments of the Year are concerned.
Anyhow, United are in mega-action this weekend because our opponents in the European Cup final last season are the first of many sorry visitors to OT this second half-term.
Chelsea have this impressive away record this season but United have the most amazing home form this season. Interestingly, Sir Alex has never lost to a team managed by Scolari so that should be heart warming. On a more serious note, United need to win all their home games this season if they are to stand a chance. We have more home games than away games left so that should spur us on. If we beat all our close rivals at home, we'll definitely walk on that podium again. We might give Europe a shot but the league is bread and butter so I hope we really get going starting on Sunday.
Patrice returns after suffering the injustice of the FA and I hope he really earns his revenge against the Rent boys. Ferdinand is back so cheers to that and I think Gary will do well for this one. EVDS will start and I hope Anderson is played alongside Carrick as Scholes will be heavily tackled by Mikel Obi. Berba is back he'll replace Tevez.
Come on United!!!!!!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

EASILY THE WORST PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON SO FAR!--DERBY COUNTY VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


The result aside, Manchester United did not really go off the team bus last night. It was such a shock watching a Championship club freeze us to a couple of shots on target all night. I mean Derby were worth their victory. Usually after a United defeat, I spend the next few hours contemplating about the missed chances and all the play that could have got us the victory but last night, nothing went into my head. For starters, I didn't expect the Ronaldo free-kicks to go in any way. They only go in when when they are least expected to, so the Paul Scholes drives and John O'Shea attempts were in truth, our best attempts at goal all night. It was shocking! We've lost 2 games this season but if we had performed as good as we did in those defeats we would have won tonight by some score! This therefore was arguably our worst performance this season and it was the worst individual performance I've seen by United players in quite a while.
On the optimistic front, it's also an achievement for our lads to play that poorly and yet lose by a single goal. It certainly shows what we are capable of when we are at our best. Of course we expect that in the return leg a OT, Derby will not have a new manager to impress and so should be less inspired than they were last night.
The problem thought lies on our side. If we beat the Rams in the second-leg, we will have made it to the Cup final--which unfortunately means that will be another league game called off as the final is on March 1--a Premier League weekend. That could prove as an unnecessary distraction as I expect we should be fighting for the title by then. It's quite unfortunate that the fixtures are made in such a way that the successful team suffers. This has been a very difficult season for us given what we achieved last season, so one can excuse the lads for putting in a performance as bad as we did last night. I mean our opponents on Sunday have the whole week to prepare while we have the added frustration of getting this defeat behind the players. But isn't that what Manchester United is all about--Mission Impossible being made possible! Bring on Chelsea!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

ANOTHER CUP--DERBY COUNTY VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


After safely negotiating the third round of the FA Cup, Manchester United continue thier two-game a week schedule in the Carling Cup tonight against Championship side Derby.
Now this is not one of those fixtures that the world champions should scratch their heads over. However, I've seen teams do amazing things after being given a new manager, so concentration will be key for United. It'll be nice to get the job done in the first leg as our opponents in the final did last night. I'd like to see the second leg as an academic one after tonight so hopefully, the young lads will get the job done.
It's risky to play your best players in games where Robbie Savage is featuring so I'd like to see a United team withought the likes of Berbatov and Ronaldo. Rooney can handle as he's made of metal. Tevez should start but EVDS should keep his calories for Sunday. Gary will almost surely be captain for the night as I expect Rafael to start against Chelsea. SO COME ON UNITED!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

WHAT THE HELL ARE UNITED UP TO?


If one looks back at the just concluded Double Winning season that Manchester United have just had, he'll realise that a lot of the success we had was down to our abundance of resources in the team. United had strength in depth but crucially, had the 'luck' factor within their ranks en route to glory. Carlos Tevez was that lucky charm United had that their rivals didn't. Besides, his strength and overall contribution to the team, he always dug us out of the grave when we were clueless. His goals were, for me, award winning. I don't have to go at length to explain his importance to us.
Incredibly though, United have somehow failed to tie him down to OT. I don't care what the credit crunch has done to clubs because for all I know, Manchester United cannot fail to raise 32 million pounds to pay the player's representatives.
David Gill should know better when it comes to United players and transfer speculation.
Tevez is prepared to quit United if another club comes with the security of a 5 year deal. He hasn't made fuss about actually wanting to quit--rather, it's the club's delay that has made him have second thoughts. At one point, it seemed harder to keep Ronaldo than Tevez but the reverse is seemingly the case today!

Monday, 5 January 2009

WELL DONE WELBECK--SOUTHAMPTON VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!




As Henry Winter of the Telegraph wrote, no Ronaldo, no Tevez, no Rafael, no Ferdinand, no problem! United breezed past the Saints yesterday as though they were not even on pitch. It was a worthy performance. The gaffer has always told our players not to shock us especially against the minnows, so thank goodness they didn't!

Danny Welbeck has yet again impressed while on senior duty. I'm thinking that the FA is lucky he's English. They finally have another player to complement the skills of Wayne Rooney upfront. It won't be long before this lad is playing in the national first team--nuff said!

Berba was simply class yesterday and it's no surprise he's many people's man of the match. His contribution to United is to more like bringing every other player into the game while measuring out attacking passes. It might be seen as useless to many but in a team whose every player has an eye for goal, he's an asset(and we all know how expensive assets can be).

Nani is still having a problem as regards to 'economising the ball'. He is as wasteful as much as he's productive. He's the only unpolished Portuguese speaker that Queiroz left unpolished but hopefully, he'll come good.

Now there is a slight concern for me as far as the entire play of the team is concerned. For starters, Manchester United is not Arsenal. When we went down to the Emirates to play them, our players tried to out-pass a team that invented 'beautiful football'. Not that United plays ugly--it's second only to Barcelona, but I'm worried by our continued reliance on the 'pass'. United have never had a problem with teams that put 11 men behind the ball but this season, it's affecting them. In such situations we changed our game to shooting from distance and more than often, a deflection would get you a goal. It's quite useless trying to thread a pass through 10 bodies in the box. Id like to see us shoot more from distance instead of shooting from the six yard box. That quality makes it hard for teams to defend against us.
Otherwise it's Spurs next in the Cup but first, we've got to put Chelsea out of their misery by shooting them in the head on Sunday. Cheers!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

IT'S THE FA CUP--SOUTHAMPTON VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


After overcoming the festive flaws, the world Champions embark on the FA Cup--a competition they have not won for a little over 3 seasons(and it's painful!) In that time, United have reached the final twice and lost. It's getting to that time where the absence of that trophy will be felt so it's time United did something about it.
For a change, this time we shall not have Aston Villa in the third round--it's a trip to St Marys' Stadium to face a once formidable opponent in Southampton.
Now, complacency aside, United should put this game to bed with at least half an hour to spare.
Unfortunately though Mr. Sir Alex might just field a weakened side that will throw a bit of FA Cup romance in it (underdogs winning) or a strong United side will treat the match as a training session where players laugh after missing chances.
Hopefully though, none of that will happen. The most important thing is to avoid something called a repaly as this will make it impossible for us to schedule our games in hand in the league. We must put away at least one game in hand this month as we are likely to pick up another if we reach the Carling Cup final.
Team news; MUTV has it that Tevez will not fly into Manchester until Sunday so maybe he'll just be saved for Wednesday. Gary should take up right-back while Nani and Anderson who were not seen anywhere around OT on Monday should start. Kuscazk(Sp), I expect will start in goal while Rio may not be fit yet. However, I hope to see the likes of Rooney, Vida, Carrick and Scholes on pitch. Unfortunately for us fans, we have to wait till Sunday for the fixture--I mean we shall play our tie even after the fourth round draw has been made!