Sunday, 30 August 2009

THE NEWEST RULE IN FOOTBALL!

This is not allowed in football!
This week, we have had one or two new rules added to the beautiful game. Unfortunately, only one club had to learn the hard-way. The rest can simply comply to the rules in future but these 'new' rules have left a bitter taste in mouths of Arsenal fans.
The first new rule was as a result of Eduarso's dive in midweek against Celtic. By punishing him, Arsene Wenger is hopping to see it applied to every other diving incident. So hopefully Cristiano has got the point. No more diving!

Then last night, Arsene Wenger pleaded his innocence when the ref Mike Dean sent him to the stands for kicking a water bottle. The Frenchman, like many of us, did not know that kicking a water-bottle is against the rules. Another new rule! Fergie take notes; never kick a water bottle!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

THIS PICTURE TELLS IT ALL!


Quite frankly, none of the four men in this picture can believe what has just happened!

WE ARE UNITED!


Wayne Rooney has scored five times this season for us, but after all those goals, he has celebrated as though his life depends on the result. It is such passion that unites him with the fans. So far apart in many aspects but yet so near---as the picture suggests!

PICTURE OF THE DAY!


What a caption! Arsene Wenger standing in the middle of a sea of United ultras, pleading his innocence that there is actually no seat for him! It summed up his and his team's day for me.

THE LUCK OF CHAMPIONS!---MAN UNITED VS ARSENAL REVIEW!


Make no mistake about it, the penalty Mike Dean gave United today was rightfully deserved as Almunia did not get the ball and took out Rooney. It was no gift, but we fans of United have indeed seen some gifts granted to us especially at the Stretford End but I guess none of those was as sensational as the one Abou Diaby gave us today.
I mean what a gift? He actually appeared to intend to head into his own net!

Anyway, the match report; United did start well passing the ball sweetly but I must say I was too displeased to see Fergie go for the 4-5-1 formation at home in a league match. I mean Rooney was always going to struggle on his own against Gallas and Vamaleen. The final ball from Giggs was not offering much anyway and so we basically couldn't counter-attack. Even when our midfielders joined the attack, we were too reluctant to have a shot on goal---always looking to play it into the box. Arshavin however did show United players that you can actually give the keeper no chance from outside the box as well. His goal was great but I think Foster should have been able to completely parry it away. I was not particularly happy with his first half-performance but I think he got good in the second. He seems to lack the confidence of playing week in week out and I think if he gets more games under his belt, he'll be better.

Fletcher did well in the middle of the park and I think he now deserves to be a regular in the side till we get Hargo back. Nobody in the side can do what he does for us.
I thought Wes did well enough but he has not attained the level he reached in 2008 when he was an integral part of a defence that won the magnificent double!
Giggs had an average performance by his own high standards but at least we got one miraculous pass from him that split the Arsenal defence and forced Almunia to concede a penalty. Wayne did well to dispatch it and it was rather good to see him take up set piece responsibility. A fourth goal of the campaign was quickly followed by a Diaby gift and that was it as far as the goals were concerned. United desperately hang on to pick up precious three points that should add confidence to the side ahead of the game at Spurs and the derby against City!
It's a 10 day break from club football now so we have a long time to reflect on this magnificent victory!
A certain Jose Mourinho once defended his side's lucky wins by saying that they had the 'luck of champions'. Basing on what I saw today, you have to feel that this win was written in the stars!

Friday, 28 August 2009

THE FIRST 'BIG' TEST---MAN UNITED VS ARSENAL PREVIEW!


Over the years, this fixture has mellowed quite abit and that is largely because the London club has been undergoing a period of drought as far as trophies are concerned (it's not to suggest that this period has ended though). The thing is, you're a friend of Sir Alex if he deems your team has posing no threat to our trophy (the EPL). The vice versa is true. All he regards as threats are the enemy straight away.

Now Arsenal have started the season in a style that can only be likened to their all star team of 2004. Their newly adapted 4-3-3 formation allows them the freedom of the park and there is nothing as dangerous as an Arsenal team that is given the freedom to express itself. So without going any further, the first point has been made--Fergie needs to appoint another 'Phil Neville'. Gary's brother did such a good job on Antonio Reyes in 'that' fixture that ended Arsenal's unbeaten run. Fletcher is therefore a 'must-start' in this one.

Now, the worst thing about this fixture is that it rarely goes according to form. The team that is deemed the 'underdog' in this one usually wins it. It's a stat that often goes unnoticed but it counts. Unfortunately, this time round, it has come too early for me to predict who the 'underdog' is. It's also too early to tell which side is on form, but given Arsenal's flawless start to the season, they appear as the team on song. United are yet to really get going this term and we hardly know which midfield will turn up tomorrow.
I've seen many predicted line-ups to this fixture but I doubt they have the midfield pair right. Ryan Giggs has not kicked a ball for United since Burnley so you think that the manager was saving him for this one. Sir Alex has this habit of going for experience in such ties.

Arsenal got four points from us last season so you think that United should do better this time round. I've said it before and I will say it again. Our home record has won us the title for the last three years so hopefully we keep that going.

United should have everyone available save for Rio, Hargo, Rafael and Edwin.
Foster will continue to deputise for Edwin and I think this will finally show us if he is over the nervousness he showed at Wembly. Arsenal have developed a formula of scoring many goals from set pieces this season so he'll have to be at his best to keep out the likes of Gallas--who is their top scorer this season!

REACTION TO THE GROUP STAGE DRAW!


Without elaborating much, Manchester United have undoubtedly been handed a tough group! It's not in the mould of established European heavyweights (save for United itself) but more like the one we were handed in 2005 when we finished bottom of the group!
I mean you look around for a six pointer in the group you're only confident about Besiktas--who are the Turkish Champions. These guys are still difficult to beat in Turkey.
CSKA Moscow are usually in the Champions League group stages so we all know about what they are capable of. Wolfsburg might need some introduction but they are the German Champions which tells you that they might know one or two things about putting points in the bag.

Make no mistake about it, United have the ability to cruise in this group, but the other element that could affect even our domestic campaign is the long journeys the team will have to make. For instance we go to Moscow in the middle of a week that concludes with a league game at Anfield.
Good though that we will be making a return to the scene of our historic triumph in 2008--the Luzhniki Stadium!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

TODAY ON FLOM!


It's Thursday 27th and whilst United are having a rare week off, a lot is and has happened this week that should interest us.

Firstly, The ARSEnal!



Written off at the start of the season and everybody's favourite as far as missing out on a top four place is concerned, the Gunners have shoved it back in the face of critics. Their style of football is the same but there is an edge about it that is making them so efficient. They seem to be more fluid and random given the exit of their target man, Adebayor, and more effective than ever in set-pieces---which was not exactly Arsenal's strength a few years back.

I mean how can one explain the fact that they have notched 10 goals in two league games. Also, everything seems to be falling nicely for them--just ask a Celtic fan what wrong they did at Parkhead but they still lost 2-0! Then they've got Eduardo back who yesterday made Cristiano look like an amateur when it comes to diving in the box. Unlike Ronaldo who always seemed to strive to make contact, albeit little, to justify his dive, Eduardo showed that you actually don't have to be touched. Memories of Robert Pires.

Anyhow, it seems such a bad time to play them, so United need to be at their best to stop this machine.



Anderson has given up his fight with the manager and vowed to fight for his place in the team. He says that he thought he would be playing more now that Ronaldo is gone but was disappointed to miss out on the Community Shield.

For starters, he's probably been advised well to keep his mouth shut when it comes to Sir Alex as there can only be one winner.

The Carling Cup draw is round the corner and we are the holders--but who cares; Whenever we win it, it goes down as 'nothing won' in the press. It's only a major trophy when United does not win it.

More importantly, the Champions League draw for the group stages is today at teatime.
It promises to be a very interesting draw especially as the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid and Inter Milan are not seeded.
The whole world will want a meeting between United and Real at some stage this season and given the 'way' these draws are carried out, don't choke when the 'rabbit' is pulled out of the hat!

Cheers for now!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

ANOTHER FALLOUT?


Won't waste time with the details but according to press reports this morning, Sir Alex is set to fall out with promising Brazilian midfielder Anderson.
Now we all know that players falling out with Sir Alex is nothing new at OT but the worrying statistic is that there has only ever been one winner.
It's either that you play along or you're off.

Apparently, the Brazilian is unhappy at losing his place in the first XI for the Community Shield and the start of the season. He did little to impress at Burnely and his reaction caused Fergie to drop him for the Wigan trip.
It remains to be seen if there is any substance in these reports.

Meanwhile we have Vidic for the Arsenal game after Howard Webb deemed his incident with Rodallega as not worth a ban. Of course it was but given the retaliation of Hugo who was on a yellow card, the Serb walks free.
He has also dismissed reports linking him with a move away from OT. Whoever had the guts to bring about this story anyway?

And just to conclude this post, THE DIPPERS GOT BEATEN AGAIN! HA!
Liverpool 1-3 Aston Villa!

Monday, 24 August 2009

TRIBUTE TO WAYNE!


Wayne Rooney made it to the 100 club on Saturday after scoring twice to help United beat Wigan 5-0. His overall total for the club is 101.
Scott from therepublikofmancunia posted pictures that depict his best moments in a United shirt since he joined in 2004. In case you missed, take a look!

SO HOW IS IT GOING TO BE?


Before I start this post, let me just make it clear that the title of this post has nothing to do with what is written below. I felt I didn't have one for today so I put a few words together to fill that gap.

Having said that, you'll soon find out that this post is largely about notes taken from the DW stadium on Saturday.

Firstly, the controversy; reports in the press suggest that Vidic could face FA action from their 'video review' panel if Howard Webb does not include his clash with Rodallega in his post-match report. So sometimes they tell us the ref must have seen the incident and include it in his report for the FA to take action. Other times they say their video-review panel will punish any incident on pitch. You wonder where this panel was when Ballack was elbowing Evra to the ground, after all, the Community Sheild is a Football Association tournament.
I guess its only when United are involved that they call this video review panel.

Sir Alex will no doubt want to rotate his squad given the number of options that he has but I really would like to see some consistency as far as the starting attackers are concerned. I mean we cannot keep expecting the same results when our attackers are changed constantly especially in a 4-4-2 formation. Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke forged a deadly partnership because they were allowed to play together often even when Teddy and Ole were waiting on the bench.
Michael Owen should not start games because he is an impact player. We can use him off the bench very well given that he will join the fray when even the defenders have slowed down to his pace. I don't mind him starting the odd Cup game but when it matters, Rooney and Berba would do for me. Let me just conclude this point by saying that I'm not the manager. It's his shots that count; but again this is my blog. It's my shots that count!

It seems we are playing little Jonny Evans half-fit. This lad has already publicly admitted that he needs surgery but even in pain, the kid does a tremendous job for us at the back. I think the manager was right to let Pique go, given what he saw in this lad. He is now, in my opinion--a first team player---another product from the Manchester United Academy!

It's Monday. The players are probably having a couple of days off, but there a few big games to prepare for starting on Saturday against Arsenal!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

NOW THAT'S BETTER---WIGAN VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


First things first; United registered their first 'real' performance of the season and duly got their reward--a 0-5 thumping victory over Wigan Athletic. Wayne Rooney scored twice taking his tally of goals for United to 101 in 250 appearances. Berbatov got one for himself as well and so did Michael Owen and Nani.

For starters, I thought that Fergie made a statement of intent to his players by making 7 changes from the side that lost to Burnley in mid-week. Thankfully, most of the players that I rate highly made the team.
It was a frustrating first half but that was only because Scholes, Fletcher and Rooney did not score easy chances. What impressed me though in the opening period was that we were making the chances and Fletcher was putting in an unbelievable shift of work that I think we shall need till Hargo returns. He was all over Wigan's midfield.

Rooney put the finger nails out of our mouths with a brilliant headed goal from a perfect Valencia cross. The fact that he is now making more use of his head should be good news for us. Berbatov killed the game with a sublime second--and what a goal it was!
Rooney then got his 101st goal before Owen lifted a a huge chunk of pressure off his back with our fourth--his first for the club.
Nani put the icing on the cake with a superb free-kick that left Kirkland flat-footed.

It was a great all-round performance and it will put the doubters to bed for at least a week. The one thing that every fan will hope for is that payers will build on this result going into the tougher fixtures that lie ahead.

Friday, 21 August 2009

PLEASE SHOOOOOOOT!--WIGAN VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


Okay, like most reds by now, I have somewhat recovered from the defeat on Wednesday--not least because it is still early days in the season and because we seem to start poorly each season.
Perhaps the one frustrating element is that our rivals are psychologically strengthened and it gives us a gap to work on early on in the season.

Having said all that, in Sir Alex, we have a manager who knows better than anyone else how to win the Premier League. It helps that he is still at the helm at United so all we need is our players to keep believing and we'll be there.

Now all logic would point to a United backlash tomorrow at the JJB but unfortunately, that is not how football works. If our players do not get on that pitch tomorrow and quickly get about killing the game, then we could be in for another shock. I mean we all recall the Liverpool game last year that we lost and the whole world expected Fulham to suffer the consequences. United therefore cannot go into tomorrow's match thinking that it is their right to to win. Every single point in this league must be earned.

One of the reasons as to why we failed to find the net on Wednesday was because our players did not shoot enough at goal. Wayne Rooney seems the only player who knows that the ticket to a goal is to shoot. The thing is 75% of the teams in the league will play with 8 men behind the ball so this idea of scoring goals only in the six yard box (that was got from pre-season) will simply not work. Shots can always be blocked but at least there is also the possibility of getting a goal via a deflection. This is where Ronaldo stood out in our team. He was the only one determined to shoot regardless of distance from goal and that is how you get pat such teams. I can't believe I'm sounding like an Arsenal fan (but even Arsenal have learnt to shoot).

Anyhow, we've lost Rio for another month--which is frustrating given that his injury problems have gone on and on for 2 seasons now. Vida will be back thankfully and so will captain Gary Neville. However, I do wonder if Gary can still do a top job in defence. I thought that Brown would take over. Hopefully he can prove me wrong.
The rest of the team is fit and will line up according to the manager's plans. Hopefully Berba and Rooney can start all our important games this season. I feel Owen can only do a job from the bench. I also feel that the more games Rooney and Berba start, the more likely they are to forge a partnership.
Over to you.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

VERY DISGUSTING----BURNELY VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!

Owen should have scored the sitter---he's doing a good job of making it hard for himself to be in Capello's plans next year.
The curse of the penalty is still working against United. It's quite a while since we had any joy from the spot. Either way for me, a penalty is as good as if the keeper goes the right way, he should not save it, so I'll blame Carrick on two accounts as he was ball watching when Blake scored.
Fergie should also avoid starting Owen in games that mean so much to the team. I think the lad can do better from the bench. Berba is not the kind you need in the last few minutes when trying to poach a goal--you need the poacher himself. So the manager got it wrong for me as far as team selection is concerned.

Otherwise, it was very disgusting from United and that is all I can say for now! Over to you.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

INJURIES GALORE AS UNITED TEST ANOTHER NEWCOMER---BURNLEY VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


As if losing Cristiano Ronaldo is not bad enough, Manchester United are having a plague of injuries that is threatening to undo what should be a very good start to the season.
From Gary Neville to Van Der Sar, Rio Ferdinand to Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans to Rafael da Siva, Nani, etc. I mean it's getting ridiculous. They say you must have cover for your first team players but what does one do when 'cover' also gets injured?

One thing is for certain, in tomorrow's game against Burnley, we cannot afford to get more players injured. It's sad that instead of talking about our team's display, all of us are calculating who we need most fit.
Anyhow, it's the second game of the league season and by all means a must win one--given what lies ahead.
So what fans will expect from United tomorrow is goals. The opposition is by no means difficult so we hope to see the free flowing football that we saw many a time in pre-season so that more confidence is restored that we can score as many without Ronaldo.
I hope to see the midfielders step up a little bit and score more.
As far as team selection goes, Ritchie Delaet could finally get his chance to 're-impress' and I think Brown will start alongside O'Shea at the back.
Carrick should return alongside Giggs or Anderson. Fergie reckons that Burnley will provide a red-hot atmosphere that will require experience on our part to get through.
Here's to a win!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

A RARE FIRST DAY WIN----MAN UNITED VS BIRMIGHAM CITY REVIEW!


So United got off to the winning start that we we all hoped albeit with the narrowest of margins. It wasn't a masterclass display but I'll take the win. Given that we've not done so well against cheap opponents on the opening day, I thought players and fans alike should be happy that for the first time in 2 years we are not playing catch-up right from the opening day. Wayne Rooney's goal should be a taste of what is to come this season and my word how we need him fit for the season long campaign.

The Report Card: Darren Fletcher should have scored a second before the break. He needs to take such chances as we'll need the midfielders to score more this season.
He otherwise had a good game.
Berbatov should have taken one pf his many chances but I thought he put in enough effort and was instrumental in the build up to the goal. He also had an effort cleared off the line and could have won us a penalty.
Owen was poor yet again on the one on one. I thought he was signed to put such chances away. I couldn't believe he missed. Hopefully, one goal will let him loose.
Rooney was man of the match.
Foster did enough to redeem himself after what happened on last week.
O'Shea was himself.
Fabio has the same problem like his brother--positioning. He should work on his crossing too.
All in all, the message from the fans to players will be 'More Goals Please'.

The unfortunate thing for United is that Evans and Nani could have joined our long injury list. Ferdinand is out for two weeks but thankfully, Vida will play next week. Before that, we still have the trip to Turf Mor to negotiate on Wednesday.
And just to conclude this post, the Dippers lost their opening game today!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

HERE GOES...MAN UNITED VS BIRMIGHAM CITY PREVIEW!


So here we are. The big kick-off is finally upon us and we (United) are facing what could be the most challenging season since Jose Mourinho took charge of Chelsea ( sounds like a long time ago, doesn't it?)
It's also quite a while that United were not everybody's favourite to win the Premier League---I mean its a statement of its own that depicts United's decline in strength that not many are willing to back the team that has won the title for the last three years.

Now, regardless of what the media and critics say about United's chances, let it be known that by default, Manchester United will always challenge for the League title. I mean, why else would we start the season if we knew we can't?
Over the last few years, it has been our home form that has won us the title. I mean, we have been averaging one loss and one draw at home--the rest all being wins regardless of the opposition. Our home record is the best in the league so that is challenge of its own for us in the new season. We start with Birmingham at home and what else should we expect but a win.
The worry I have is that I even during pre-season, there were hardly teams ready to park the bus for a draw so I'm yet to see us open such a side in our 'new' formation. The last two times we played Birmingham, it was goals from Ronaldo the departed, and Tevez the traitor in narrow 1-0 wins. It shows you the task we have at hand to break them down in the limited time of 93minutes.
What United should not forget is that the Blues will know that we don't have our best defence so they will launch a few forays into our box hopping for a lucky break that will send them on their way.

Brown is back, but we don't have Vida, EVDS, and Evans. I hope Fergie plays Fabio or Ritchie Delaet. Those two boys could be the real deal for us this season and what better time for them to step up than we have injuries!
The bad news is that we have to wait till Sunday for our game!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

GONE ARE THE DAYS WHEN NO PREDICTIONS WERE MADE FOR THE NEW SEASON!

As the years and seasons go by, interest in the game expands. Football or soccer in some areas, has already beaten showbiz and now threatens to undo religions as many people have gone to the extents of ending their lives over a football game. Wasn't it after a Champions League semi at the Emirates last season that a Kenyan Arsenal fan hanged himself?

Back in the days, we got excited about the new season but never made any predictions as big as bets or anything like that. I mean we liked the game for its unpredictability.
Unfortunately, things have changed.
Football is a very easy game to understand, unlike baseball or cricket, etc. I mean everybody will know when a goal is scored whilst in cricket for instance, you'll have to wait until you see somebody with white lips scream.
As such, football is very easy to analyse. I'm sure many people would like to get on Match of The Day and give their own opinions. Unfortunately for the neutral, those opinions are more or less biased. For instance, even after Michael Ballack publicly admitted to fouling Evra, there are ABU pundits who suggest that it wasn't actually a foul.
The media attention has not helped.

Nowadays, you cannot go into a season before you hear your team's expected achievements. It's actually as though a script is being written and your team WILL perform accordingly with or without your belief. It's sad for many reasons;
1--Because the fans like the one who killed himself will more or less hang themselves earlier
2--Because football is more than just unpredictable.

I mean why then don't the FA hand the title to Chelsea are Liverpool in advance without us going through the entire nine months? Why doesn't the football be played in the transfer market---in that the team that signs the best players be given the title already?

This is my blog so let me give my personal view of how I go into every season.
I watch every club game at the start of the season until the new year because it's not until then that we can get a faint picture of how the final league table will be and who will win the honours come May.
You might be shocked by this but, aside the fact that i expect United to challenge and probably win the title, I also think that Arsenal can win the trophy next year--not just theoretically but practically! I also don't believe in this 'new league' called top three as I will not rule out the possibility of teams like Chelsea or Liverpool actually fighting for that fourth spot!
The beauty of football is that all this, despite looking unlikely could happen next season.
It's why I am gutted when United lose, but will not buy the rope! I call it having a 'biased open mind'. Have your expectations but again, expect anything.
If you go with such a mind into the season, then you will not be among the shallow minded fans who will be calling for the sacking of say Sir Alex Ferguson after a disappointing season.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

IT'S AGAINST ALL ODDS FOR MANCHESTER UNITED---THIRD PLACE FINISH?



Regular readers of this blog should have seen the poll on the right hand side that asks fans to rate United's upcoming season. The few that have actually taken the trouble to vote seem to have big expectations for United. Infact, the majority think that the current squad can emulate the success of '99 and land a treble.

Now, I've always said that I wouldn't care if we got knocked out of every Cup competition as long as we win the league. For me, there is nothing more important than being the best club in your country and the league is the best and only yardstick to determine that. Winning the Champions League is no mean feat but how and why should a club lay claim to being the best in Europe when they are not the best in their own little country?
It's why getting a Champions League final as fitting as last season will be very difficult.

The Guardian has got this magazine that they release annually just before the season starts, showing their predictions for the new campaign. Everybody is entitled to an opinion and you can't take that away from them but here's what hey have for us. 1.Liverpool, 2. Chelsea, 3. Man United!
That is how the league table (to them) will look come May! Not surprisingly, the bookmakers have followed suit; the odds follow that order so if you really want to win some handy cash, bet on United now (before they slash the odds).

It goes without saying that the current Manchester United squad has a lot to prove in the season ahead. Unfortunately for them, the only way they'll win over doubters is by winning the league for the fourth consecutive year-=-something that would still be difficult even if we hadn't sold Ronaldo and Tevez!
But again, something tells me that Manchester United do well when they are up against it.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

UNITED LOSE SHEILD ALBEIT IN DUBIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES!---MAN UNITED VS CHELSEA REVIEW!


When you are a Manchester United fan, you want to win every game. That is why defeat leaves such a bad taste in the mouth that you have to freshen up. (Like I've done.)
Having said that, I'm not really bothered by the fact that Chelsea have beaten us on penalties to claim our shield.
I mean. we've won it twice in a row recently and yet each triumph has been played down by media, fans and the press, by the end of the season, everybody actually seems to forget that you won the Community Shield.

I think that Manchester United fans should not take this defeat with a heavy heart because we actually played well. I mean there was not a moment in the match when I thought we needed Ronaldo--and yet this is arguably the toughest opposition we'll come up against next season. The players really did well, save for the one in-between the sticks.

The other positive from the match is that our players did overcome adversity. Okay, Ballack elbowed Evra and the ref failed to stop the game even though we were 9 men down at that point (Berba was receiving treatment off pitch) and Lampard went on to score. It was injustice on our part but I thought that United were going to give in and save their energy but we fought back and Rooney got us level with seconds left. That for me, made my evening.

Now to the areas of concern--Ben Foster did not get my vote to start in goal today so now you know why. I mean the lad seems to have lost all his confidence. I'll give him more time however before I throw in the towel on him.
Then reports coming in suggest that Nani could miss the start of our season due to the shoulder injury he got. It's gutting to think that injuries and not anything else are threatening to ruin the start of our season.
And before I log off, let me just add this for the good of Manchester United in future--EVRA IS NOT A PENALTY TAKER!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

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


It's not to say that a lot should be read into whatever happens tomorrow, but for United, I think that the season starts tomorrow. The Community Shield is, like the Premier League, fast becoming our trophy! I mean it's going to be three seasons in a row that we are contesting for this early piece of silverware and it could be the third time in a row that we win it!
The Community Shield contributes almost nothing to the new season (besides giving the press the chance to verbally humiliate the losing side for 7 days before proper football is underway), but it is the first game of the season that in which fans really feel the hurt of defeat. You see, there is not much to be sad about when you lose a game in pre-season (which is why Liverpool have won once all summer) but when there is a significant prize up for grabs like the Shield, you feel it. It's why Rio Ferdinand will lead out a United team tomorrow that only has eyes for victory.

Unfortunately for us, we will not have Vida or Wes available tomorrow. Garry will also be out and of course EVDS. What is a bit worrying is that the manager hinted at the absence of EVDS for 10 weeks which is more time out that the initially thought 8 weeks.
What remains to be seen is who Fergie will start in goal tomorrow. I've already given my vote to TK for now.
And just an update, Owen has been left out of Capello's squad for the Holland game next week. That can be both good and bad news for us. HOWEVER, THE EQAUTION IS A CONSTANT----UNITED > ENGLAND!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

THAT WAS EASY!----MAN UNITED VS VALENCIA REVIEW!


As usual, it is fitting that United have their final pre-season fixture at home so that the fans can get a glimpse of how far the team has come as far as preparing for the new season and I have to say, we were treated to an entertaining spectacle last night.
For starters, United did get the win--2-0 with goals from Wayne Rooney and Tom Cleverly.
What pleased many on the night were the wonderful performances produced by each of the players that Sir Alex sent out last night.

The first lauds should go to Mr. Antonio Valencia who was my, and many people's choice of Man of the match. The Ecuadorian winger has proved that whilst he may not have the goal-return that Ronaldo gave United, he does have a directness of play that will time and time again create chances for our forwards, and in some instances himself! His performance was so good that the boss had to use the word 'very' twice to stress how well he had played when asked by MUTV. His accurate passing in the box will also benefit those around him next season. We've seen him play on three different occasions already and I have so far not been disappointed. The right wing at OT is in safe hands.

Then how about a certain 20 year old right-back called Ritchie DeLaet? To be honest, I saw this guy in action in our last game last season at Hull and I thought his performance was a one-off, saw I did not make anything out of it; but when he produced a repeat performance last night, I was over the moon. This lad re-defines the full-back position. Testament to that is the fact that he had three or four attempts at goal and also had the confidence to take on three Valencia players if that was the only way he could get in their box. I mean such defenders don't come around too often so I think we have a gem here. What's puzzling me though is that why are we so heavily armed in the right-back position and yet we could do with say more armoury on the left wing? Anyhow, I really hope Ritchie gets his promotion into the first team soon He deserves it.

Rio Ferdinand, in the absence of Nemanja Vidic, did take on the dirty-work responsibility and i thought he did very well. If he remains fit throughout the season, it will be a big bonus for us. That however is not to say that we don't have enough cover in Jonny Evans and Craig Cathcart.

Now as far as the forwards are concerned, Sir Alex did for the first time pair Rooney and Owen upfront and I must say that but for the poor finishing that Michael treated us to last night, that partnership seemed to work to almost perfection. They were reading each-other's moves so well that the on-looking Fabio Cappello must be thinking heavily about including Michael in his England squad this weekend. We United fans will be rather indifferent to this as we all know that International duty is another avenue for injury. He got his worst injury whilst on national duty with England.

Now something hit me last night whilst watching the game. If you asked a United fan to point out an example of the club's policy of developing youth, many will quickly mention Danny Welbeck and Kiko Macheda. Yesterday, I realised that we could actually benefit from our academy in the future given how many youngsters we have that are doing well. I mean we've got Welbeck, Macheda, Gibson, Evans, Carthcart, Tom Cleverley, Delaet, Foster,Fabio, Rafael, Tosic---I mean all these players can be trusted to do a job at any given time and I'm proud to add that not many sides in the world have got that luxury. To think that we could still get 10 years from these players shows you why United could still be a force in the not too distant future.

Now, the debate rages on--who starts in goal on Sunday? Sir Alex gave both Tomaz K and Ben a half yesterday (to keep us guessing) but if performances last night are to be taken into account, then the Pole edges it. He's the one who made saves--one of which could have won save of the season in a proper campaign. One could argue that Ben was not tested enough whilst on pitch but it must have been realised that Valencia could have scored on two or three separate occasions when Foster was either beaten or in no man's land.
Having said that, the boss' opinion is all that matters so we shall just have to watch on on Sunday with fingers crossed that an error from whoever is picked does not cost us our shield!

Let me just sign off by apologising for the long post.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

HAVING A BAD DAY? READ ABOUT HOW TEVEZ FELL IN THE SHOWER!




Okay I don't have the story here, but will join me in laughing?
If the coaching staff is, why not the fans?
Together now: Hahhahahahaha! ha hahahahahaha.....aaaaaa HA! HAHHHAHAHAHA!
He actually got injured and will miss the start of the season.

I mean picture this...was he getting aggressive with the shower? Together: Hahhahah! haha! hah!

SO HOW WILL UNITED FARE AGAINST OPPONENTS THAT DON'T FEAR THEM?--MAN UNITED VS VALENCIA PREVIEW!


This actually came out yesterday but I thought I should save it for today--match day! Apparently, the Valencia coach, Unai Emery, reckons that United are no longer a team to fear given the departure of Ronaldo and Tevez.
He acknowledges that we are still a tough team but have lost the ability to strike fear in our opponents.
Hmmmm--I wonder how they will now approach the game tonight especially now that there is nothing to fear about United. Would they play differently if we still had the World Player of the Year and the Argie cunt?
Good thing we are still in pre-season. I'm now anxious to see a game where the opposition has no fear whatsoever of us. Forget those that keep quiet and eventually win--these guys have spoken out!

On a more serious note, Sir Alex has got to get his first choice team right tonight as this is the game that precedes the Community Shield on Sunday against Chelsea. We've already lost Edwin and I doubt that the likes of Gary, Wes, and Vidic are match fit. We might just be a little thin as far as quality is concerned. However, I'd like to see the lads take this game seriously and play with the tempo that will really show us that they are ready for the challenge ahead. Forget the walk-abouts of pre-season. This is a chance for our players to test themselves against a typical European style team--the kind that we'll have to overcome if we are to make it to Madrid next year!

BIG BIG BLOW FOR UNITED!


I was just about to post the preview for the friendly fixture tonight against Valencia when I read the news that EVDS will miss the start of the season after undergoing surgery on a finger. Medical reports suggest that the Dutchman broke a finger on his left hand after saving a penalty in the Audi Cup final.

It's gutting really especially since the Dutchman was instrumental in our wonderful defensive record last season. He will be sidelined for up to 8 weeks, meaning we'll not see him till October.
It's all doom and gloom as we have Ben Foster and TK to cover for him. These two understudies have now got their chance to show Fergie that they are ready as there are quite interesting ties before Edwin returns. It all serves to make Fergie's selection tonight and on Sunday more difficult. The last thing that United and their fans want is a slow start that has characterised the last two campaigns--and after writing off Liverpool already, Sir Alex will not want to eat his words as early as October.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

SO WHAT IS FERGIE'S STRONGEST XI?




Manchester United have played at least six times already in pre-season but Sir Alex has succeeded in keeping his strongest XI anonymous to us. We've seen all sorts of pairings and so many different teams that we United fans must have conflicting views as regards what our first choice team is.

I'll make the task a little easier. I think we all agree that EVDS is the undisputed first choice goalkeeper at OT. Tomaz and Ben will just have to endure another season of filling in.

The first major problem however is right-back. When fit, I'll always go for Wes Brown in that position. I thought he made that position his own in 2008. However, given that he is more or less likely to be out of the team due to injury, there is John O'Shea and Rafael da Silva along with club captain Gary Neville. Now Gary is not the player he was a few years ago so you'd think that Sir Alex will only give him the odd game here and there.
That leaves us with a talented young Brazilian and and an experienced but largely ineffective Irishman. Don't get me wrong. O'Shea is not the worst right-back in the world, but we are less likely to benefit from him as far as attack is concerned. The only reasons as to why I support Fergie's stance on him are that he has good height--which is an asset in defence, and he has a knack of getting the odd important goal for us when least expected. Rafael is more athletic and can actually make more of a contribution going forward with assists as well as goals as we saw at the Emirates last season. His problem however is his lack of physique and the occasional failure to keep in position as far as defending is concerned. He also lacks the height bit that one would consider vital in defence. Sometimes it's a bit embarrassing watching him and his brother standing behind strikers trying to win the ball.
That, reader, is the first point of debate. Some fans will go for Rafael whilst others will go for John. The good news is that when fit, we all agree that Wes Brown should play right-back.

The other good news is that the central defence pair of Rio and Vida has never generated debate as far as incompetence is concerned. We all agree with it as well. Patrice Evra should have been worried by the performance of Fabio in pre-season. If the young Brazilian adds age to whatever he's got, then he'll be a clone of Evra.

The next major point of debate is the central midfield pairing. Again I have to say, when fit, Owen Hargreaves is our number 6! I mean who else in the team can win the ball better? Hargo can also be a winger if he's got an able deputy like Fletcher in the middle. Carrick is surely in Fergie's first team for the mere fact that he's got the vision of Scholes. If only he could score more....
Anyway the debate here should be what about Anderson? Should he play ahead of the likes of Fletcher and Scholes and Giggs?
Without a doubt, this will be the most rotated area in Fergie's team. The veteran duo of Scholes and Giggs will only play once a week when fit so that leaves the holding role to Anderson and Fletcher. What I'm also sure of here is that we cannot agree as to what our best pairing in the absence of Hargo is, quite simply because they've all got different qualities that complement each other. We'll leave Fergie to work that bit out.

Before we leave the middle, let me just point out that whilst Antonio Valencia is a sure starter on the right, Nani is also better on the right. I've noted that he gets the ball in better and can easily beat opponents when on the right compared to the left. I however expect Sir Alex to start the season with him on the left. Park can also do a job on the left but he doesn't do much as far as whipping in balls is concerned. Some even suggest that he's not a natural winger and that he can do well in the middle. I must say that even at PSV, Park was sometimes used behind the main strikers.
Zoran Tosic will have to add more meat before he can handle the rigours of the Premier League. Sir Alex has a job to do there, but you feel that if Nani does 'step-up' as people are calling it, then the job will be done for him.

The final and probably most vital issue to solve lies in attack where many will go for a Berbatov-Rooney partnership. On paper it seems like a no-problem partnership but those who watched pre-season closely will agree with me that it was the Owen-Berbatov partnership that had anything close to working. Having said that, Owen will not be a regular for us next season as Sir Alex has already said he need 25 games from him, 15 goals. That means Berba and Rooney will have to work something out that is better than last season. However, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt as Ronaldo was still around last season and everything was channeled through him.

So there you have it, but as I conclude this rather long post, I'd like to acknowledge that I've rally done nothing as far as solving the topical question--but don't blame me, blame Fergie! He's the boss!

Monday, 3 August 2009

THE SUMMER IN PICTURES!



Lets face it, Rio loves the camera!





Does she really know what she's implying?




After-retirement plans for Evra!





Gossip boys!






First things first!







The Miracle of Munich!







Debut goal for MO7!









He was the star of pre-season---4 goals!











Unrivalled support!








































So United, returned to Manchester after their month long pre-season preparations. The entire journey from Manchester to Malaysia to Korea to China to Germany and back to Manchester can be told form the gallery as produced from the official website--In desdending order!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

I'M BACK WITH A WEEKEND REVIEW!


I took an impromptu leave from this site at the start of the weekend for reasons best known to help my dad complete the 'first leg' of his two-week marriage ceremony.



That was immediately after the Audi Cuo final in which United were baten on penalties by Bayern Munich. For starters, it is never likely that any side in the world--let alone an English side, can beat a German team in a penalty shoot-out. Germans, they say, don't miss! No wonder that their National team has only lost one penalty shoot-out in their history!

Anyhow, save for the first half, we could have won the match in the second half. Our best chances fell to Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and to a less extent Berbatov (he made his first half chance on his own out of the blue).

It's not pften to see EVDS beatenfrom the spot 7 times in quick succession but that's how good the Germans were. He did all he could to put off the Bayern players but they all seemed to have been there and done it several times before.



The game marked the end of our pre-season away from Manchester. It was a rather successful pre-season in my eyes as we made some good cash in Asia and then participated in what Audi successfully in making glamorous in Munich. As well as a few unoficial trophies, we must have made some new friends especially in the Far East.

United's next and last unofficial match before we get to business is the home clash with Valencia. It certainly will give our players a lot of what to expectfrom Europe next season.

More on that game later.



In my absence, I heard a rumour that the club were preparing to line up a bid for Frank Ribery of Bayern in two weeks time in the hope of exploiting a clause in his contract that will be active in a fortnight. Now I've alrady given my opinion on players who come to United with no intention of staying for the long-term but if he does want United, then we're in business as far as Europe is concerned. Right now, our squad can only successfully challenge domestically.