Thursday, 31 December 2009

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


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

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


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

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

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

Monday, 28 December 2009

HULL CITY VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!

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

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

Saturday, 26 December 2009

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


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

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

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

WEDNESDAY!


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

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

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

Monday, 21 December 2009

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


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

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

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

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

Saturday, 19 December 2009

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


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

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

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

Friday, 18 December 2009

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


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

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

MILAN IT IS!


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

Thursday, 17 December 2009

A FEW NOTES AHEAD OF AN INTERESTING WEEKEND!

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

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

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

Monday, 14 December 2009

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


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

RYAN GIGGS--A LIVING LEGEND!







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

Sunday, 13 December 2009

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


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

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

Friday, 11 December 2009

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




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

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

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

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


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

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

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

Monday, 7 December 2009

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

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

Friday, 4 December 2009

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


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

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

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

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


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