Wednesday, 29 December 2010

vs BIRMINGHAM COMMENT!


Yet another away draw, yet another dropped points in the dying seconds of a game.

You'd think that in any other season, United would have taken advantage of Chelsea's slump in form and pushed clear atop the league. Unfortunately however, the away draw curse has ensured that the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal that have lost at least five games are still title contenders. I mean we talk of the games in hand we have against Chelsea and Blackpool but again those are away games and given that we're hading into the final third of the season with just the one away win, you can't really say that we'd get maximum points in those games.

We seem unbeatable at home and yet our players shrink a but away from home. We did play well in the second half last night and we were unlucky not to go 2-0 up midway in that period but we let Birmingham on us in the last few seconds so it was almost always likely that they'd get an equaliser albeit in controversial circumstances.
It was a linesman that cost us the title last season and how fitting that another linesman cost us a precious away win in the last game of 2010. Here's to better luck in 2011.

The point was enough to keep us top of the league going into the new year and still unbeaten after 18 games but given that the next game is away to West Brom on Saturday, you can't help but feel that we'll not be top after Saturday if we fail to win at the Hawthorns.

Monday, 27 December 2010

vs SUNDERLAND COMMENT!


After two weeks without football, we finally got to see United play yesterday--at home again and this time against a tricky Sunderland side.

In truth we could have won by a much bigger scoreline but we'll take 2-0 as it preserves our lead at the top of the table as well as extending our unbeaten start to the season to 17 games.
Dimitar Berbertov might just soon find himself getting the nod when it comes to the crunch games as he's quickly winning over even more critics. A second consecutive man of the match award definitely did no harm to him as far as that is concerned.

The one glitch that still hovers over our season so far is our away form. One win and five draws away from home means that our two games in hand plus the game away to Birmingham tomorrow are going to severely test us. We've done well on the expansive Old Trafford Pitch but how we cope on the relatively smaller St. Andrews and the like could be what ultimately defines our season.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

MANCHESTER UNITED COMMENT!


So while I was away (particularly from blogging) United have risen to the summit of the EPL and also won their Champions League group.

League: After our 7-1 thrashing of Blackburn, we missed a league game at Blackpool because they can't afford under soil heating and we beat one of our rivals for the title---Arsenal. Sunday presents us with an opportunity to stamp our authority over the title race---whether we take it is still an unsettled question.

Europe: We won our group albeit after surrendering our defensive record at home to Valencia so we can look forward to a kind draw tomorrow. Don't cross your fingers because we've topped it twice in a row and look what we got last season and the season before last.

Cup: We still have the FA Cup to look forward to come January but a fairly strong side capitulated at Upton Park and saw us dumped out. I mean it's hard to remember the last time we lost 4-0!

Park: He must be doing something right! Too bad he's got to go for the Asian Cup.

Rooney: Instrumental in all our victories since his return but he can't buy a goal. Poor penalty against Arsenal and he must be the most relieved that Le Arse didn't make us pay.

It's Chelsea in the league on Sunday and I hope the players play with the same bitterness they had when the rent boys pipped us to the title by a point!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

APOLOGY

Due to one or two issues, I'm working on getting back to regular blogging. So this blog will be dormant for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

7-1!


After a hard earned three points from Rangers in midweek, United took on Blackburn in the league at home looking for a win that would take them to the summit of the league for the first time this season, but nobody could have fore-seen what the script had in store for us.

Dimitar Berbatov benefited greatly from having Wayne Rooney back alongside him with a remarkable 5 goal haul that ensures a place in history as one of four players to score five in a league game. Bu for some brilliant goalkeeping by Robinson, the Bulgarian would have clinched a new record of 6 in match.

The media will no doubt fill Sunday's columns with the Bulgarian---and he deserves it as he takes a fair amount of criticism each matchday but the performance of the whole team was probably the biggest reap for us today. The kind of flowing football and chemistry with a blend of ruthlessness that we've come to associate with Manchester United was what we saw yesterday for the first time this season.
For a moment after Park made it 2-0, I thought we were going to take our foot of the gas in the same way we did against West Brom but thankfully the lads kept attacking even at 5-0! It is that sort of ruthlessness that has won us so many league titles under Sir Alex and I hope we carry that into the second half of the league campaign.

It says a lot that we're heading into December still unbeaten in all competitions so long may that continue.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

WIGAN NOTES AND A LOOK AHEAD TO RANGERS


At the end of the day, our main rivals for the title had dropped three points and we had bagged three so Saturday was not, in context, a bad for us at the office. But the manner in which we laboured to come away with a 2-0 win against 9 men is what worried me. I thought that Wigan on the day could have got something if one or two things had gone their way.
Our midfield has looked very porous especially during league games when we use four in the middle as opposed to five. I mean it speaks volumes that we're yet to concede in Europe where Fergie likes the 4-5-1 and yet we've let in a mammoth number domestically. That our defenders were the ones planning attacks and supporting the forwards was also damning so I reckon the manager has a lot to do in that department before we face the kind of opponents that could exploit our midfield weaknesses.

We play Rangers on Wednesday in the Champions League looking for all three points in a bid to top the group. The reality is that a point would take us through but there is the better comfort of topping that could save one chewing their nails come the draw for the knock-out round.

Rio and Vidic will be rested so Evans and Smalling have another chance to stake a claim for themselves for a first team berth.
There is a little tingy rivalry associated with this fixture so we'd rather be on the end of a win.
Congratulations to Sir Alex who will take charge of his 200th European game as manager---and that is no mean feat!

Friday, 19 November 2010

HOME SWEET HOME!


After two straight away league games, it's good to be back home playing infront of our own fans. We'd have wanted more than two points from our last two games but hey, such is the script that United play to these days.
I mean who writes the scripts for this season anyway? I mean at the start of the season if somebody had told you that going into December we would still be unbeaten then you'd probably think along the lines of topping the league as well as having a fantastic defensive record but hey, it's none of those.

To be fair we're only a game away from the top but the reality is that if we don't kick on and avoid letting in sloppy goals, we might just be left to rue the missed opportunities when winning the league or not is no longer in our hands.

I must have been the only one that never celebrated our two goal comeback against Villa. I was too embarrased by the way we let a young Villa team boss us that I couldn't lift off the ground because we had drawn with them. I was still waiting for the third goal to finally celebrate when the ref blew his whistle.

Wigan Athletic visit OT expecting nothing from he game but so did West Brom and look what happened. In the second half of the season when Wigan go to Stamford Bridge, we'll write that weekend off as another 6-0 or something to them. There is no reason therefore as to why we should let our own complacency cost us points that we might spend the next summer agonising upon.

The centre of this fixture is Wayne Rooney who should start on the bench. I personally hope that we won't bring him in in search of a goal.

Anders Lindegaard has been chosen by Eric Steele to replace EVDS and hence has competed a switch to OT starting January 1. I hope he has a wonderful career with us.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

NOT GOOD ENOUGH!


At this rate, we might just as well kiss the league title goodbye. The only goal I was prepared to celebrate yesterday was our third goal---if it had come, so I wasn't among those millions of fans dancing around because we had salvaged a point in a game that we should have won really---on paper that is.

Manchester United as the moment don't seem to have the required midfield personnel to mount a title challenge---unless we play five in the middle which has worked so well for us. But we're not the kind of team that preaches defence because we need as many attacking players as possible on the pitch to play the United way. We're not like City who'll play three games at home and score no go goal. It's why we have to play the traditional 4-4-2 but I'm afraid we might have to adjust to the 4-5-1 for the sake of saving our season. I mean Fulham, West Brom, Liverpool, Villa and Everton have now scored at least two or more goals against us. That means that we are as porous as we could possibly get when compared to the last four seasons.

By the end of the afternoon, we could be six points behind Chelsea and in third place in the league. I know we've played some very tricky away games so far but we might just be running out of room to correct the wrong of our early season stagger.

The one silver lining we can draw is that this unbeaten thing keeps on following us. I mean with ten minutes left at 2-0 down given the way we played, you had to think that this would be the first but somehow we score 2 without a reply from them and the streak goes on and on and on....

Saturday, 13 November 2010

THE NEED TO WIN!


Regular readers of this blog will testify to seeing that headline quite a few times during my season previews. I use it in times I really think a win could do us a world of good.

We've dropped one too many points away from home and although the draw in midweek wasn't so much of a disaster, failure to follow that up with a second away win of the season could be fatal to our title hopes. Chelsea now sit four points above us and you'd think that that lead should be no more if we put on a consistent run of wins between now and Christmas given that their next ten games are mostly against the teams in the top half of the league.

The last time we lost at Villa Park, Alan Hansen came up with the legendary phrase 'You'll win nothing with kids'. Shame.
But you'd think that it goes to show that we have a pretty good record there and hence shouldn't get any away day nerves.

We've got a couple of injuries in vital positions; Rafael and Evra could both miss out after limping off on Wednesday whilst Scholes is suspended. That almost certainly means that the manager will make one or two changes to the team that started against City.

Ultimately what should count more than anything on the day will be to get the three points that should put us in good stead ahead of the International break.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

AS STALE AS IT COULD GET!


What I saw last night on TV were two sides not willing to throw a little caution to the wind with one or few risks. In the end, the Manchester derby produced a rare 0-0 draw that the home side seemed comfortable with---not United though!

The difference between United and City was still visible despite the investment their squad so its safe to say that they did nothing to bridge the mammoth gap that exists between us and them.

The biggest concern for us on the night was injuries to Rafael and Evra. We've once again been hard done by injuries so much so that I'm expecting a patched up team to take to the field for (would you believe it) a Saturday early kick-off.

The Manchester derby aside and regardless of the injuries we've got, I think we cannot afford to drop points at Villa Park. We must win that. We're now four points behind Chelsea and hence can't allow them any more room if we are to take full advantage of the clash between us and them.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

AND NOW FOR THE DERBY!


Manchester City vs Manchester United. It's turned into one of those games that you'd rather not have on the fixture list because defeat could end your life but again so could victory. I mean when Paul Scholes scored that last minute winner at Wastelands last season, the lad seated next to me nearly broke his beer bottle on my head whilst celebrating.

The intensity of the game ahead serves to show why I was very relived that we beat Wolves at the weekend. It was a vital win but some stats have been disturbing me. The last eight meetings at Eastlands have produced the following sequence; LWLWLWLW. If that is anything to go by then we're in for a hammering tomorrow.
That coupled with the fact that we're short of players--at least according to the manager, then it doesn't bode well for us. This is one of those games when we need a squad and performance that is better than what we saw on Saturday.

In derby games though, form usually goes out of the window so I'm hoping that no stat and no extrinsic factor will influence the result. What we cannot turn away from is the fact that our noisy neighbours have raised their game quite well when they payed big opposition as Chelsea and Liverpool found out so hopefully, we'll be up for the task come Wednesday night.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

PHEW!


Manchester United have played very well many times away from home this season but have left without the maximum hit. Yesterday we played so poorly and didn't deserve the full hit but in the end we got it. That's how football can be sometimes.

It was a long story yesterday. Carrick and Berbatov were struck by illness before the game and were hence ruled out, Scholes was a yellow card away from missing the derby on Wednesday so starting him would be suicide in many ways, Hargreaves only lasted four minutes of his first start in three years. That meant an impromptu call up for Bebe.

Regardless of who you're playing in the Premier League, one two many disruptions before a game can cost you points. I mean you wonder if we failed to recover from the loss of Hargreaves because we never really turned up after he walked off. That was appalling to put it mildly and I hope we pull it up on Wednesday.

It was round about 3.50am in Korea when Park scored the goal that could ultimately define our season so I wonder how many of his country-mates were awake to witness that moment of magic.
United had until yesterday not taken their opportunities of putting pressure on the league leaders so it was nice that we finally won before they played. We can now sit comfortably and watch this afternoon's football drama unfold.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

PERFECT!


I thought United were as professional yesterday as they were against Spurs on Saturday. Busaspor is not exactly the kind of opposition we should be over the moon after beating but the Champions League atmosphere in Turkey can undo a team. They have the kind of atmosphere that can drive players to play out of their skins but I thought we were very professional in getting the job done last night.

Perhaps what will steal all the headlines is the young talents that United had on show that played like an experienced bunch altogether. Obertan, Rafael,Smalling and Bebe deserve a pat on the back. The two wingers, in particular could just be the answer to the midfield crisis we're facing at the moment.

We entertain Wolves on Saturday in the league without Valencia, Fletcher, Anderson, Giggs and Nani so I think its a chance for the young talents to make a name for themselves even early on.

As far as Europe is concerned, I think we're just about good to go as I expect that we'll get at least a point from our last two games.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

TURKEY ON TONIGHT'S MENU!


Manchester United seem to be on a bit of a run oat the moment and goodness me, how vital it is that we keep it up. We're in Turkey tonight for the Champions League away tie against Bursaspor but if the recent encounter is anything to go by, this is not a foregone conclusion. What we do know about going to Turkey from our games against Besiktas, Fernabache and Galatasaray is that they do have vocal fans and that can give the players a lift to play out of their skins. We'll have to be on guard today against any sort of complacency because if results go our way tonight, we could qualify for the next stage with two games to spare.

We've got Rangers away and Valencia home next so we shouldn't put ourselves in a position of want of points after tonight.

Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs are the notable absentees from the squad in Turkey so Chris Smalling and the likes of Obertan or Bebe could get a look in tonight.

We've need to avoid a slip up of any kind tonight because we need to maintain the momentum of winning so good luck to the boys!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

WE WON!


So United turn up and produce and absolutely flawless display against one of those teams it would be 'understandable' to drop a couple of points. It was an absolutely fantastic performance and we will win the league if we play like that for the rest of the season but shall we?

Sir Alex has already come out to dismiss any January signing so that means the fans and Wayne Rooney will have to wait a little bit longer before they can see fresh faces at the club. The manager has asked the fans to put their faith in him so let's all watch it unfold.

We need to go on a run of wins now---I mean beating Spurs hasn't changed the fact that we're still five points off the pace so hopefully we can keep this form going. Hernandez's form has made us disregard the fact that Wayne is out for another five months.

Oh and cheers to Nani for proving us with another moment of the season we shall look back on in May.

Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

TROUBLE! SPURS ARE IN TOWN!


By the end of Saturday, we shall know just how far United have come from recovering from their early season slump. We shall also know how far they have gone in making a statement to a certain colleague basking in the sunshine of Dubai.

Tottenham Hotspur provide the opposition this weekend in the incredible series that is the Barclays Premier League. Chelsea's near faultless start to the season coupled with our generosity away from home means that fixtures such as the game tomorrow could potentially hand us a fatal blow in this season's title race.

Spurs is one of those teams that we have somehow managed to beat regardless of the circumstances but this must be the first time in ages when they could actually boast of a more threatening line-up than we've got. It is in their midfield that their strength lies because the likes of Van der Vaart, Modric and Lennon are a handful for any opponent. Why Sir Alex didn't sign up the Dutchman is still a mystery though.

Man of the moment Javier Hernandez should start and so should a host of big names that sat out the rather agonising 3-2 victory over Wolves in the Cup. Ultimately though, we must iron out the mistakes that we've been making since the season started if we are to get the win on Saturday. We've relied on our home form to stay in the title race so we cannot fail to win two consecutive home games.

Here's to back to back wins in the league!

Monday, 25 October 2010

DESTINED FOR GREAT THINGS!


I hope I haven't jinxed him but Javier Hernandez is almost certainly destined for great things at United. Without a doubt, the boy has got talent but the manner in which he stands up and makes himself counted even at his tender age makes you wonder if Sir Alex has unearthed another gem of a talent for a bargain.

It was unfortunate for the boy that his goal last week went largely unnoticed because of the manner in which we once again threw away a two goal lead but his double yesterday has made the back page of just about every daily in the country.

Ultimately for us though, it was a much needed away win---the first of the campaign and hopefully that has set the tone for many more solid displays on the road for the remainder of the season.
Chelsea are not showing any signs of letting down their guard so until then, we cannot afford to drop points---even if the next game is Spurs!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

CALM AFTER THE STORM BUT WE'RE ON THE ROAD TEST AGAIN!


So Busaspor wasn't the first of many games without Wayne Rooney because the lad has made a rather astonishing U-turn and signed a five year deal at the club. One week it's Lverpool going into administration and another Wayne Rooney is leaving Manchester United---the press has really had a field day these past few weeks but it's not to suggest that they'll now be short of news because United's form in the league so far this term is headlines itself.

Stoke City will be considerably disappointed not to get a point tomorrow from United---largely because this is a good time to play United----I mean how often will you play against the Old Trafford side and still believe you can get a point even at 2-0 down? The reality is that United will have to score three or even four before teams actually surrender the points. We have to earn back the right of invincibility and ruthlessness.

It's a five point gap form the top and our City neighbours are starting to build a gap on us before the derby so we need to address our slump in form and start picking up vital points. That two of our rivals play against each other at the weekend means that victory on Sunday for us will almost certainly improve our place in the standings.

We've got a nearly full strength side and have no serious Cup duty for our senior team in midweek so I think we ought to be fully focused on getting three points from the Brittannia Stadium. Stoke is notoriously a hard place to go but we have a good record against them. We've actually not let in goal against them but don't bet on that if the current form is anything to go by!

Our luck has to change-----fast!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

BUSASPOR-----THE FIRST OF MANY GAMES WITHOUT WAYNE ROONEY!


Sigh.

Sir Alex has confirmed in his press conference that Wayne wants out of United. You've all been following the story so no need to start from that March date in Munich but it's been known by the manager since the start of the season that Wayne had turned down a contract extension at United.
Where he ends up, it remains to be seen but that is that for now.

We take on Busaspor in the Champions League on Wednesday at home---a winnable game, and one that should see us finally win a game of football, At the moment, we're short in terms of luck but I believe we can create our own luck and start forcing fate to grant us wins in games. Victory in this double header should see us through to the next stage so hopefully our defence and attack are up to the task.

Wayne, Evans, Michael Owen, Giggs, Bebe are all missing through injury so Macheda, Gibson and Smalling could get a look in.
We've got Stoke away on Sunday and so we'll need to save a lot of that energy for that particular away trip.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

MAYDAY! MAYDAY!


I'm not kidding here....Manchester United have to write to the FA on Monday morning and ask to be excused from the rest of the domestic season!

What in the world was that all about?
Who I'm I kidding---we've seen it all three times already this season. In fact the message from the players seems to be that the sooner we get used to throwing away two goal leads, the better for our hearts.

The manager thinks its inexplicable, the media can't believe their luck, I think we've been done by some evil spirit from Anfield!

$It was nice to see Hernandez net his first league goal for us at the Stretford End!

Friday, 15 October 2010

PHEW! IT'S A HOME GAME!----MAN UNITED VS WEST BROMSWICH ALBION PREVIEW!




Sadly, it's come to that! The first piece of clarification I seek whenever the red devils are going to play in the league is the venue for the fixture. Our away record means that we only have to bite our nails on the road whilst we can sit back and relax at OT.

West Brom are the visitors this weekend, and so you can't see anything but a United win in this one. Not that the Baggies are a non-issue but because our home form is the reason as to why we are still in with a shout of winning the title.

Chelsea thrashed WBA 6-0 on the opening day of the season and we all brushed that aside as 'having an easy start' well I can safely say that United won't win 6-0 tomorrow (5-0 yes but not 6-0). Anyhow, the point is that Roberto Martinez's side has bagged 11 points so far this season and so are as near to us in the league as one game away. I mean to think they could beat us and then take our place in the league is (slightly) daunting.
So quite simply, we have to win this. Any other result and the press will have a field day about our ability to win that 19th title.

We've got a fairly good squad in terms of health---I think its Hargreaves and Park with niggles that will keep them out of our next few games. Hargreaves picked up a calf injury in training and so has not trained for the last few days according to the manager.
It remains to be seen if Sir Alex will start Rooney tomorrow given what's been going on in the media.

It's now five months of club football before the next long International break--good recipe for a long run of wins. I mean, a lot of trophies could be won and lost in the coming period so here's to a decent run.
Cheers!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

QUIKIE!


The preview for the game at home to West Brom will come up here shortly but here's a little bit of what's been going on during this 'eternal' International break.

The headline has to be what is in the news today. Wayne Rooney talking to the media about his ankle injury and denying having been injured when Sir Alex told the press that he was.
Wayne Rooney vs Sir Alex---anyone? Don't be suprised if he doesn't start on Saturday due to an 'aggravated injury.'

Javier Hernandez scored again for Mexico in midweek---there must be something about this kid and the back of the net. We United fans seem in for a treat during his time withus.

Hargreaves has been passed fit to play on Saturday by his Doctor (Richard Steadman) but we all have that feeling that its going to be that Carling Cup game against Wolves.

Rio Ferdinand isn't the United captain but he is the England captain---another reason as to why United>England.

Cheers!

Monday, 4 October 2010

NOT GOOD ENOUGH----SUNDERLAND VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


You wonder if its a case of United starting poorly and traditionally taking their time to gain momentum. The reality is, and I thin Sir Alex knows it, that Chelsea have raised the bar once again and so we cannot afford to let them so far ahead of us even before we see the better part of October. Granted, they do have an ageing squad and fatigue could play a factor but maybe they'll have built enough of a cushion to see them over the finish line if we allow them to keep pulling away.

Last week, we had the opportunity to punish their defeat at City but could only draw at Bolton. This week, we had the chance to put them under pressure ahead of their game against Arsenal, but we could only draw again away. Unlike us, they punished the error of their rivals and now sit five points ahead of us going into the second International break of the season. We've not dropped points at home, but when you drop as many as we've done over the past two months, then you'll have situations like City being above you in the league. It's disgusting.

The midweek trip to Valencia did come into play when Sir Alex was naming his team for the game at the Stadium of light---and I have to say that the difference between our first choice and second choice team was physically visible especially in that first half. I mean that was one first half that we never turned up. I f I were a Sunderland fan, I'd be gutted that they didn't make their dominance count going into the break.
The media will no doubt question Sir Alex's transfer business of the summer especially when the likes of Van der Vart are earning their sides priceless wins. All that talk can however be avoided if United snap out of the slumber they're in and start pushing for top spot in the league.

On the plus side, we remain an unbeaten team in the league and have now kept two clean sheets in a row, which is no mean feat given how many we've given away this season so far.
We take on West Brom at home after the International break---in the meantime, the manager and players need to sort out one or two things that have not gone quite well on away days in the league.

Finally congratulations to Dimitar Berbatov for winning the PFA fans' Player of the Month of October award. I thought he deserved it! More of the same Berba!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

VIVA VIVA CHICHARITO!


What a way, what a time, what a match to score your first Champions League goal for United. I say what a match because it's not like Hernandez scored it against Busaspor (with due respect). Valencia are Spain's third biggest club only behind the established duo of Real Madrid and Barcelona. And it's not like he did it in the relative 'comfort' of OT. This was at the Mestella stadium--one that Ryan Giggs particularly remembers for its atmosphere.

Last night, United needed something from someone to win them a match in which they for long periods it appeared both teams had cancelled out each other. The stat of losing 9 games in Spain in the Champions League out of 18 with just the one victory kept us warm as we watched the game crawl towards a stalemate. Javier Hernandez--off the bench provided that something that we needed and it couldn't come at a better time! I think he only had two chances to himself from the time he came on--one of them coming off the upright and the other finding its way into the bottom corner of Sanchez's goal.

It has to be said, we defended pretty much better last night than we've seen in the league so far and maybe that has to be down to the manager's decision to restore the tried and tested partnership between Rio and Vida. I also thought that bringing Rafael in place of O'Shea suddenly made us more of a threat than we've looked so far--given the Irishman's inability to provide the extra body upfront as regularly as we attack.

Javier Hernandez has suddenly wrote a small piece of history for himself at OT already---his goal secured only United's second win on Spanish soil in the Champions League! The importance of his goal can be deduced from the fact that going into match day three, we would have been third in the Group C standings, with just two points whist Valencia and Rangers would have four. Instead, Valencia now find themselves third whilst we're top of the group.
The media has gone all about praising Hernandez today and I think he deserves it!

The focus now turns to Sunderland away in the league---a big chance for us to put pressure on our title rivals Chelsea ahead of their clash with Arsenal at the weekend.
Cheers!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

REACTION TO BOLTON, LOOKING AHEAD TO VALENCIA.


What a disgust of a match it was! Yet again, United conceded a couple of questionable away goals and made Bolton the latest EPL side to look like world beaters. At this rate, we don't stand a chance but if this is a case of poor form, then I'm glad that we are picking up points whilst in this form.

We'd have to possess a very rewarding striking line if we are to concede as many goals as we're doing throughout the season. Fine, we've managed to get a couple plus in every game but when it comes to the Cup competitions such as the Champions League, we cannot afford to win 3-2 for instance at OT because chances are that the away leg will end 2-2 (on this form). Right now any United fan would easily take a 1-0 over a 3-2.
It remains to be discovered what Rafael has done to Sir Alex to be deemed unworthy of a place in the first team. I think he's a much better player than O'Shea on that right hand side and it's time he gets a season or two of consistency in that position.
Rio Ferdinand is fit---has been fit for a while but why the manager doesn't play him in the league is another mystery. You'd think that his game reading abilities might just save us a couple of the goals going in at the moment..
In short, I think it's a travesty that we've let in nine goals in six EPL games. It's the reason as to why we cannot take advantage of a Chelsea slip to narrow the gap at the top to just a point. Instead, Chelsea will think that they've been let off the hook---unless we can go to the City of Manchester Stadium and win!

Moving on we take on Valencia in Spain in the Champions League on Wednesday in a bid to get our first win of the Group stage. It's kind of funny that we'll be looking to win away in Europe and yet we've so far failed to win away in England.
Anyhow, we're slightly weaker in terms of squad for the game because Wayne, Rio and Giggs are, for one reason or the other, missing from the selected squad. Wayne and Giggs in particular are carrying slight injuries. Hopefully Wayne in particular will use this welcome break to get something in his head right.

Valencia are top of the league in Spain---and all those well acquainted with the La Liga will tell you that's no mean feat, even after a few games, in a league that saves that spot exclusively for Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Darren Fletcher thinks that we'll have to keep the if we are to beat Valencia so hopefully we'll see some bit of ball retention from our side. A win should be the target because with Rangers almost certain to beat Bursaspor, we could find ourselves in the 2005 position of scrapping to get out of the group.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

THE NEED TO WIN----BOLTON WANDERERS VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


Can there really be a bigger incentive to win a league game than there is tomorrow? After watching Chelsea and Arsenal lose today, United have the almighty chance of closing the gap between themselves and Chelsea to just a point going into October and open up a three point lead against Arsenal.

Bolton at the Reebok stadium can be a tricky fixture but this is one of those games in which we cannot afford to drop points especially after seeing our rivals slip. Unfortunately it's a much bigger problem than Bolton away. We are yet to win away from home in the league this season. Our away form last season was the best in the league and perhaps kept us in contention for the title to the last day. It's why the manner in which we have thrown away points at Goodison Park and Craven Cottage has been shocking. Failure to win tomorrow will mean that we head into October without an away win and that could turn out to be a problem that could haunt us in the future.

The manager pointed out in his weekly press conference that teams will no longer give in even at 2-0 down against us. It does make the job a tad harder but I'd like us to see us play till the 95th minute.

Hargreaves is back in training and so is Carrick but you expect Fletcher and Scholes to keep their places in midfield. I'd like to see the manager giving Rafael and Fabio more league action as well as Obertan and Bebe. We might need a breakthrough on the wings given the absence of Valencia for most of the season. Expect Sir Alex to throw up one or two section surprises given the tough looking trip to Spain in midweek.

We've got Wolves in the fourth round of the Carling Cup next month.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

NOT THAT WE EXPECTED ANY LESS!


I mean we scored five and all but I can't say I expected anything less---I mean who the hell are Scunthorpe?

There are only just a few notes to make in review of the Carling Cup third round fixture last night. The first is that we do have a large squad that, bar an injury crisis, can last the distance fitness wise. I mean we shouldn't fall victim to fatigue this year if we can afford to make 11 changes to a team that played against Liverpool on Sunday and still have 8 senior Internationals in the side.

Secondly, it was nice to see us poach five goals against opponents that had more shots on target than us but still manage to win 2-5. That perhaps explains why PIG was given man of the match by Skysports.

Third, from what we've seen so far, Bebe doesn't seem to be as bad as the media have made out. Ronaldo was nowhere any better than his fellow Portuguese at 20 years so Sir Alex should be given a break about this 'signing him before seeing him play' thing.

Fourth and finally that we have yet another golden chance to win this competition---third time in a row as what you'd call our main challengers; Chelsea, Citeh, Everton, Liverpool, etc were dumped out.

On a more serious note, we've got an important game on Sunday at the Reebok stadium and it's one of those games that we have to win on a weekend when the likes of Chelsea and City are playing each other. Roll on the weekend!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

REACTION TO LIVERPOOL WIN WITH A LOOK AHEAD TO THE CUP.


An important three points on Sunday! A day to remember for Dimitar! Yet another reminder of a flaw in our ranks as we lose a two goal lead for the second time in a week!

Ideally, there is nothing wrong with Manchester United but that is just on the surface of things. Fans and manage alike are still working out a reason as to why we've let in as many goals as we have so far this season. That we let in less at this stage last season when we had all sorts of problems in defence at this stage makes it all the more baffling. I mean given the return to fitness of our first choice custodian and a more or less first team defence, you;d think that this season's title charge would be down to defence.

On Sunday though, it was the poor challenge on Torres by Evans that gave the Dippers a way in plus Fletcher's inability to stick close to the wall that allowed Gerrard to draw them level. I still think we were a much better team on Sunday than 3-2 and although Dimi did spare our blushes, I shudder at the thought that we seem not to have solved a phantom problem in our defence. So far it has cost us heavily only on the road---but on the road is where we open our Cariling Cup defence this season against Scunthorpe.

We seem to do well against major opposition in this competition, so I was a bit shaken by the draw. I mean its lower opposition that has accounted for our demise in the recent Cup competitions so hopefully this time we get it right. I don't expect the manager to play his best side tomorrow but I'd like to see Obertan, Anderson, Rafael, Fabio and PIG given more time in this competition. The likes of Smalling, Hernandez and Bebe could use this as another avenue to kickstart their careers at he club.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

THE NEED TO RE-INVENT----MAN UNITED VS LIVERPOOL PREVIEW!


United have been dealt a major blow for the season with the news that Antonio Valencia will be out till the end of February. I made it a point this week to look at the stats and see how Valencia influenced our game last season and the results are worrying. Antonio had a hand in 3/4 of the goals we scored last season and was just about the sole reason that Rooney got those many goals with his head. His ability to put in a good ball from the right hand side is just about as good as was Beckham's was. He's out no so we have to deal with it.

Nani can put in a good ball---as we all saw last weekend but not anywhere as frequently that Valencia does. He'll be playing on his favourite right wing spot so you hope that he turns in the magic but that is only down to hope.

I think that United have to re-invent themselves into that sort of side we had when we lost the likes of Beckham---when the midfield provided the creative ingenuity. At the moment, we've got Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov providing the creative axis in the team but I fear that opponents such as Liverpool could work out a means of shutting Scholes out of the game or even getting him sent off. Darren Fletcher does provide us with a goal or two here and there but it would be nice to see him back to his creative best that we saw last season. Carrick would have been the other player I expect to step up but he's out so Anderson really has to get going. He can do a job as a defensive midfielder but being Brazilian, you'd think the first thing he learnt was going forward and spraying passes.
Ultimately though, regardless of the side Fergie picks, we need to be more than just the one dimensional team that we've been with Valencia. I think we'll also have to work on the defect of throwing away chances as we might not be able to create as many---I mean look at Tuesday's game!

The Dippers have started the season poorly and so they might be looking for such a result to kick-start their season. Having said that, it's not like if we've started very well either. We need to address one or two defensive issues that have cost us four points from four games. Our rivals for the title have more or less straight forward opposition this weekend so that will be a bother. Ultimately though, we're at home and so you expect us to do all we can to get the three points. This Liverpool teams has just about enough holes to exploit and I believe we can beat them on the day.

The manager has named Nemanja Vidic captain for as long as he's in the side----Not a bad choice!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

STALEMATE!


Another quick-ie!

I did post in my preview that the players owed us a victory after what happened at the weekend but only one of those started the game last night so no hard feelings on anyone.
Sir Alex surprised fans and media alike by making a whole 10 changes and maybe all will be forgotten if that decision pays dividends on Sunday against the Dippers.

We need a win---of some sort at least. I mean United don;t go three games win less so onwards and upwards! And before end this, congratulations to Hernandez and Smalling for making their Champions League bows.

Meanwhile, it was gutting to see Valencia have his season almost certainly end with that horrible injury. We wish him a speedy return.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

IT STARTS AT HOME!


A quick preview for the game tonight. United open their Champions League campaign tonight against Rangers at home. Given the all British nature of the fixture, the media have done their bit to hype it but for us United fans, its all about getting an apology from the players for what we saw early on Saturday.

Truth be told, I've not had a good weekend because of that and I doubt I'll cheer tonight's goals (fingers crossed) with the same zeal that I did on Saturday.

We've got Wayne and Rio back so that should be a boost of some sort and as usual its the 10 points that you initially search for to make it out of the group so you'd think that all home games are a must win.

Rangers are by no means easy opposition and are one of those teams that could turn the atmosphere and occasion to their advantage. Walter Smith can be a good man manager.

However when all is said and done, the players owe us a victory tonight so roll on kick-off!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

UNACCEPTABLE!


Four games in, four points lost in a manner that only a relegation candidate would portray is damning! I'm sorry, but what we saw yesterday from United is completely unacceptable! Manchester United do not lose points like that---as frequently as we have done.

I mean what happened to the lessons learned at Fulham. Should we now buy it that the players have learned from this? And in any case, is it something that a club of our stature needed 'learning about'? No words can express the hurt felt by millions of fans world wide but I have to say that if we don't address something in this team fast, we might not have to revise our ambitions as early as January.

Don't get me wrong we played some brilliant football yesterday---like we did at Fulham but therein the draw yesterday lay the difference between results and a good performance. It's Arsenal that will play pretty and walk away with a point---not United!

Of course the silver lining in all that is that we've picked up points from two grounds where we posted nothing last season but that will count for nothing if our rivals do the same. For instance last season Chelsea drew at West Ham but got all three yesterday.

It's why the manner in which we threw the game away yesterday was unacceptable!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A TRIP TO MERSEYSIDE----EVERTON VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


We lost this fixture last season (rather painfully) and we could only manage a draw in there in the season before last so Goodison Park, not unlike Craven Cottage is on of those places that United don't relish visiting. But having thrown away a couple of points at Craven Cottage, it's imperative that United don't give Chelsea any more breathing space than we have already allowed them.
I've already blogged here that we cannot afford to drop any more points before Chelsea does. If they've raised the bar then we, as we always do, have to respond to that challenge.

Everton is of course the childhood 'mother' of Wayne Rooney so he'll be up for some traditional abuse. I have to admit that it has affected him over the years as he has not turned in a good performance in the last few fixtures against them---and what more; allegations about his private life might just have added the little bit of fuel required by the home fans today to boo the man they cheer on whilst on National duty.

Rio Ferdinand is back so hopefully our back five should look more like it's supposed to be for the next few months. Carrick and Hargo should be the only unfit players we have so the manager really does have a strong pack to choose from. The form that Dimitar Berbatov has shown should mean that he is a regular starter for now whilst the rest afforded to Scholes and Giggs during the 10 day long international break should mean that they will play a huge part in the game.

It's by no means an easy fixture, but one that we should win given our priority this season.

Friday, 3 September 2010

WEEK'S NOTES


No club football for 10 days so everything United this week has been off the pitch. Sir Alex and David Gill were actually not kidding. United did not make any new signings on deadline day. In fact we lost another young talent on loan. Tom Cleverley is the latest reserve player to go out on loan taking the number to seven. Thankfully though, he'll be playing in the EPL with Wigan this season so it's a chance for him to show the manager what he can do in the senior league. The club's failure to bring in anyone of 'note' this summer will be the first ground on which the media will roast the club should anything go wrong between now and January.

Rio Ferdinand made his long awaited return from injury with a reserves fixture in mid-week. Ole reckons that he is ready enough to be thrown into the starting line-up for the trip to Everton on high-noon September 11.
The most intriguing sub-plot of his return ought to be if Vidic will pass on the captain's armband to him. The Serb has led out United for all the games so far this season---despite the presence of Mr. Ryan Giggs.

Owen Hargreaves was also included in Sir Alex's 25 man Premier League squad which should be a pointer that the club are, at least, hopeful that he'll return from America soon enough to make a Premier League appearance before Christmas.
Given the number of players we have on loan, I reckon we have just about eveyone in.

Finally the Daily Mail has an interesting article on Bebe after he linked up with the Portugal U-21 side this week. The link is on our face book page for this blog. I mean you've got to read about how he scored in training on his back-side with his back to goal.

Cheers ya'll!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

STILL UNCONVINCING!---MAN UNITED VS WEST HAM UNITED REVIEW!


Okay, they boys did get the job done with three points (as I asked for) but I was more into looking for THE SPARK in our team that would be the X-factor when the going gets tough. The sad thing for us though is that it was the old veteran couple of Ryan Gigggs and Paul Scholes that was the spark for us again.
Ideally the spark would be from Nani, Rooney or a Berbatov---Granted the named players did score but that doesn't tell the whole story of the game. Rooney benefited from Ryan Giggs's magic, and Berbatov benefited from Nani's moment of magic. Nani made his own but therein lies the problem. Without having players that think on the same wave length, Berbatov can cut a loose figure. It took that precise pass by Nani to include him in the headlines this morning. Nani made his goal on his own but if only he knew that all it takes to make him as good as his departed colleague Ronaldo is consistency. I mean the chances he failed to put away in the first half were damning!

Against better opposition, I think we would have struggled given the number of times we gave away the ball----a recurring theme in our play this season. We've got tough games coming up in the shape of Everton and Liverpool and yet we cannot afford to drop points---at least not yet yet. I really hope we customarily improve our game as the season wears on.

That our play dropped massively when Scholes came off is rather worrying. Well maybe I worry too much!

It's a welcome International break (for my heart) so that ought to allow us to put things into perspective as we prepare to do what we did yesterday twice a week. The Champions League Group stage massively dented our league games last season. Tottenham discovered the effect they can have yesterday.

Friday, 27 August 2010

EUROPEAN ROAD TO WEMBLY MAPPED OUT, AS WEST HAM VISIT.


When the draw for the Group stage of the Champions League is done, everything comes into perspective. Suddenly you start looking at the journeys you will make in midweek before domestic games. The reality is that it does have an impact on how you perform domestically. Last season, we lost just about every game we played after an away Champions League game in mid-week so that we're not travelling to places like Russia is rather welcome.

David Gill and Sir Alex have once again confirmed that there will be no new arrivals at the club before the transfer window closes on Tuesday so what we have available is the squad we, as fans, shall expect to win all against all odds.

Given the squad limitations with new Premier League rules, the manager can literally have a squad that plays domestic football and one that is for the European games. We've got Valencia, Rangers (can you believe) and Busarspor in Group C. Sir Alex will ask for 10 points to get us through but I think we can top this group. We must win all our home games and that is already nine points. Then you'd think that we have enough to win in Turkey and at worst get a point from trips to Spain and Scotland.

Meanwhile, the more immediate concern for United at the moment is West Ham United. Avra Grant's side visit OT tomorrow at tea time. We'd all have hopped for nine points out of nine from August but I won't be complaining if we get seven out of nine. It's a tough League. West Ham at home should also be an opportunity for our players to thump in a few goals themselves. A couple of goals for instance would do Wayne Rooney a world of good at the moment.

Anderson is back in the mix and I think the manager might just consider Michael Carrick to boost his confidence. Paul Scholes will need a rest one of these days as he can't keep playing every week. I thought we were poor defensively at Craven Cottage last week so hopefully we'll see a better showing in that department this time round.

Once again we get to play after our rivals so there will be extra pressure to win this one---especially if Chelsea find another six goals at home to Stoke.

Monday, 23 August 2010

DEAR OH DEAR---FULHAM VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!

The negatives: WTF? Nani! When you're 2-1 up with a couple of minutes to the end of a difficult game and you are given a penalty, you just don't miss it. End of story. And since when did Nani start taking penalties when Giggs is on pitch. I thought that particular battle was settled last season when Giggs took two penalties (including the one won by Nani) in the final home game against Spurs when we really needed them to go in. I'd be surprised if I see the Portuguese lining up for our next one.

WTF Jonny Evans: I know what he's capable of but yesterday he showed one or two areas of hi game that he needs to work on if he is to remain at this level. I thought he defended very poorly. Nemanja Vidic looked ordinary because his partner was not up for it. He made Zamora look like a god---and that is unacceptable. We conceded two sloppy goals today as far as marking players. Scholes; albeit having had a good game and a trademark goal, let his man make several runs into the box without escorting him.

Javier Hernadez has finally got us talking on a weakness that he has (took some time though). He apparently isn't the best striker with back to gaol. Every pass that he got to his feet was played back to the player he received it from. That isn't such wrong move to pull off but on a pitch as tiny as Craven Cottage, the more fluid you are going forward, the better.
To be fair to Berbatov, their goalkeeper did pull off a few stunning saves but he was helped by the fact that he Bulgarian kept shooting straight at him all evening.

The worst bit of it all is that unlike the past two visits to Fulham, we were on top of this game and had the opportunity to win it with a few minutes to go but somehow blew it. That hurt most---even more than the past two defeats. That's two points dropped and for the second successive season, after just two games, we're playing catch up. We've got a couple of difficult fixtures to come after West Ham so that means we might not wait long to put our season into perspective. Given the 'computer game form' that Chelsea are in, we might have to beat Everton away, Man City and Liverpool in the same month to keep in touch. I know it's just the start of the season, but in this era of the Premier League, you cannot afford to let your rivals steal a commanding lead ahead of you.

The positives; It was a far better performance at Craven Cottage than the last two visits so something seems right about this season in that regard. All we need a major response on Saturday. The fact that we also got a point from a venue we drew blanks in the last two seasons could also play along well and Fulham did, by the way, deserve a point from the game.

It's got to be Chelsea dropping points before we do next otherwise the manager might start getting questions about his transfer activity in the summer. Speaking of the manager, (hehe) he refused to speak to the BBC---AGAIN!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A SCORE TO SETTLE?


Fulham are notoriously difficult opposition for United. It's not that we've gone to Craven Cottage for the last few seasons and failed to score because I still remember them coming to OT in the first half of this past decade and stealing a 1-3 win. Even before the rot of the past few seasons started, I thought we still struggled to beat them. Three seasons ago, I we needed Cristiano Ronaldo's solo late effort to secure a win that never looked likely. Then of course came those 2-0 and 3-0 defeats.

I 've never fancied their pitch as it is , for starters, a rather small one. It's also not the smoothest of turfs to play on and the manager has gone all about declaring his happiness at the fact that we get to play them when it is still early in the season hence a better pitch.
Fulham fans, given our last performances there, no doubt have reason to feel that they can pull it off once again this season but the reality is that its almost unlikely.

For starters, it's not often that the manager goes out of his way to watch a club like Fulham (or Ozil). Then I thought in 2009, they got us on the wrong end of a terrible defeat to Liverpool at home and so the expectation of a backlash went ahead of us.
Last season's defeat is self explanatory---I must say I saw that one coming when Fletcher lined up alongside Carrick in central defence. That something of the sort will happen again is tremendously unlikely.

We've got an almost full squad to pick from---I'll leave that headache to the manager but one thing that the manager and fans will want to get out of the way is to give Hernadez a first league start.

Mark Shwarzer is one Fulham player I'd want to miss this game because on his day, you just can't beat him---oh yes and Danny Murphy as well. The latter will most likely play though (so that means whatever happens, we must make sure we score at least two goals tomorrow).

Anything but three points will be an absolute disaster.

*Anderson back in training. Ferdinand to return in late September.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

DIMITAR BERBATOV; MAN UNITED VS NEWCASTLE UNITED REVIEW!


Without being any lenient to the players, here's the review.

Berba could have scored five goals last night if he wanted to. For whatever reason he turned down every other chance after his opener, we'll never know. The manager thinks he was a tad too careless with his finishing and I thought so too. He cannot afford to rest on the laurels of scoring one goal in the match because times will come when he can't even get a sniff.
Having said all that, I thought he was our second best player on the pitch, only second to Scholes.

I thought the performance was not the best we could offer. Nearly all our players gave away the ball cheaply at different times but none more than the goalkeeper EVDS who kept hoofing the ball forward to nobody really. Of course he has that ability to catch the other team off guard by launching a long one to Wayne but its clear Mr. Rooney was not up for it today.

Wayne seemed out of sorts. Injuries sometimes do claim a spark from a player. I mean we've seen many players not return to the gems they've been after recovering from a long term injury. Hopefully the one Wayne sustained in Munich last year will not jinx him as he hasn't been himself since. The good news for him though is that he's been through barren spells before and we know that when he's over it, he'll be as red hot as ever.

Antonio Valencia probably had his worst game in a United shirt last night as the telling crosses in the box he is famed for were all cut out before the ball left his foot. Pretty average for O'Shea as well but this is August. Three goals and three points is better than we had at this stage last season anyway.

United next take on Fulham at a venue that has become a 'nightmare ground' for us these past few seasons. It'll definitely be even harder to past all three points come Saturday. Thankfully, we've got a full week to prepare for that one.

Friday, 13 August 2010

AND HERE WE GO AGAIN----MAN UNITED VS NEWCASTLE UNITED PREVIEW!


Surviving a summer largely devoid of club football couldn't have been easy on any one. The World Cup went a long way in easting away that barren spell so I guess we can't complain much but there is a hunger that's been growing in me to see United for another 9 or 10 months of football.
Having said that, I think I really needed this break. Last season was the first 'fingers crossed' season we've had in years so my heart didn't have a good time throughout the season. On no less than five occasions, I could have died of a heart attack, despite my levels of fitness. The derby games especially had better be kind on my heart this term though.

Anyhow, enough of last season. We lost our trophy last May to the Rent Boys so priority number one for us this year is to win the League. Not even Champions League success will nurse the wounds of another failed campaign at home. It's a bit damning that I say this as I think, given our near none-existent transfer activity, we're in for another fingers crossed season. But hey, such is what we (spoilt) supporters of United have to expect from our team.

Newcastle United provide the first opposition of the season to us. It's a season opening game. It's a home game. It's a promoted side. It's Newcastle United. There is therefore no reason on earth as to why we shouldn't post all three here. In fact, it could work in good stead for us if we start building that goal difference from the start. I mean why cry over it in January when we could have started building in August?

Aside fro the regular absentees, and by that I mean Hargo, Ando and Rio, I think the manager has the player resources to name a strong team for the game that is capable of delivering and saving us an opening shock.

Our opponents have one or two faces that our players are familiar with. Alan Smith will certainly get a warm reception when he returns to OT whilst I think Kevin Nolan ought to be well known by our defenders. He was their leading scorer en route to promotion so the likes of Vida know who to pay close attention to.

It will be sort of itching watching a whole weekend of League football minus United but hopefully, the last will be the best for us.

Just in case I didn't point it out before, we've got Bebe. (Don't ask me who that is!)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

THE MESUT OZIL TRANSFER SAGA


It's not often that this blog gets to mull over potential transfer targets for our club, but once in a while a transfer saga forces the hand.

Mesut Ozil had an outstanding World Cup for Germany and so naturally was linked with all the big clubs in World football--and it's a no brainer than United heavily feature in that category. The nagging thing though is that here's a player who could easily move to Barcelona, Chelsea or United and in so doing close that particular chapter but instead is subject to one of those transfer sagas that only the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas would merit.

That has in effect meant that despite the fact that Sir Alex told the media throughout the summer that he was not adding to his squad, United have been in the gossip columns.
Granted, we could use a player like Ozil in our team and the fans would very much love Sir Alex to make his first 'big name' signing since a couple of summers back, but get it over with already Gill!
The reality is that unless the likes of Gibson and Cleverley step up next term, we are likely to suffer from a lack of creativity for some parts of next season. We do have enough to make Chelsea look 'ordinary' on a given day as Giggs put it but over an entire league campaign is quite debatable.

The most uncomfortable bit about this saga is that the delay in finalising a deal for this particular player has made the affected sets of fans for the clubs involved to mentally flirt with the idea of having Ozil in their ranks next season and as such will not go down well with many a fan when he makes the move to a club other than their own.

Monday, 9 August 2010

FLOM'S REACTION TO COMMUNITY SHIELD TRIUMPH OVER CHELSEA!

Forget about the fact that we've added yet another accolade and piece of history to ourselves as that is not what our season will be remembered for come May. The thing is, the Community Shield is kind of a competitive pre-season friendly so it's a more objective yardstick against which one can judge his team's readiness for the new season ahead. That we were up against our main challengers for the title next term makes it all the more credible.
So we won 3-1 but the real story of how ready we are lies in individual assessment of the players some of our key players.

EVDS: Our close to 40 years old goalkeeper once again underlined the fact that he'll take some replacing by running Paul Scholes all the way in the man of the match award. Scholes probably just edged it but the quality of goalkeeping form the Dutchman was once again top notch. If his stays fit for the larger part of next season, then I doubt we'll let in as many as we did last term.

Michael Carrick; Now this was a shocker. Sir Alex confirmed to the world media pre-match that Carrick would be out for the start of the season. He did take part in the open training on Saturday but you thought a full throttle game like yesterday's would be to son for him. Anyway, he made it from the start and put in a somewhat better performance than he did last season. I tried to pay closer attention to his performance and defensive cover and I thought it was more of the Michael Carrick that started the 2008 Champions League final. Whether he can maintain that level of performance over the course of the season is another issue all together. For now though, cheers Michael!

Antonio Valecia: He got the opener. He set up the second and so one would say he did what he's paid for. Not quite for me. I think Valencia will do well to add a bit of spice to his wing play---that spice being to make use of the space he creates for himself. He needs to use the first time ball more often than he does. Take the case in the first half when he dad acres of space for himself to pick a perfect pass for either Owen or Rooney but he chose to wait till Chelsea got bodies back and Rooney's frustration was evident. So when Scholes played Rooney down the wing, the England striker showed the Ecuadorian the value of a first time ball through the legs of Terry and Valecia found himself with the easy task of slotting home. I thought he learned a bit of the same when creating Javier Hernandez' goal.

Javier Hernandez; I recently blogged that Chicharito had almost perfect goal per game ratio for Mexico but it seems he's building a similar kind of ratio at United even despite not playing 90 minutes for us in any game so far. I've been trying to look for the one difference between him and the other forwards we have and I think it's got to do with the fact that he's got the Ruud van Nistelrooy ability of being in the right place at the right time. Not so different to what Michael Owen has but Michael has put on weight and hence is unlikely to convert the kind of chance he had in the first half with the goal at his mercy. You'd however back Hernandez to dash there in time to slide the ball home. The only downside to his game unfortunately might have have everything to do with the officials. I think he's too quick that the officials might wrongly flag him offside for the entire campaign. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

I thought that the biggest worrying stat for us was that we kept less of the ball in midfield. Without a doubt, I think that's one area we are light in and given that Sir Alex has confirmed that he was watching Fulham and not Ozil, I think we'll have to cross our fingers that our best midfielders are available for the larger part of the season.

More encouraging however is that we seemed a strong outfit without a host of first team players. That we beat Chelsea in the manner that we did without Rio, Hargo, Ando, Gary, Gabriel, Tom, etc.. should bode well for us.




STARTER . . .


Reaction to the match to follow soon but for now, take another long hard look at Chicharito!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A TASTE OF WHAT LIES AHEAD---CHELSEA VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


It's one of those games that both managers are likely to play down. There is nothing much one can read into the result really as it's only a statistic that gives this game importance of some kind. That four of the last five winners have gone on to win the League is the only reason why the winner of tomorrow's Community Shield meeting between United and Chelsea will be viewed in a different light form the loser.
Bar a thrashing, no one can really claim that this 'useless' fixture is anything to go by. Personally, feel its one of those avenues that the FA uses to pocket a pound or two. I mean that the Shield is ranked below the Carling Cup in terms of honours really puts into perspective what's at stake tomorrow---NOTHING!

That said though, we cannot escape from the fact that this will be one of at least three possible meetings with Chelsea this coming season so it's another chance to get one over them. It's always sickening to lose against Chelsea and given the amount of luck they had against us last term, it's time we reverse the trend. It's also a somewhat good opportunity to square up against what ought to be our main rivals in our bid to reclaim our trophy next season.
Granted, United have not done much to improve themselves from last season so Chelsea will go into the match with a relatively stronger squad than ours, but one thing I'm sure of is that our attack seems much more equipped for the long haul this term. We've done well in front of goal in pre-season even without Wayne Ronney so that ought to be a bonus.

Michael Carrick is ruled out of the game and the manager thinks he wont be available for up to two weeks. In fact, I think it's pretty damning how injuries are threatening to get us done even before the season starts. That we head into the season's curtain raiser with 8 injured players--most of whom have injuries sustained pre-World Cup is really astonishing! It almost certainly means that we'll once again spend an entire campaign without necessarily being at full strength because it's unlikely that the ones we have fit will last August and September without picking up knocks.
Sad really! But the faster we get Ando and Hargo, the better for us in the middle of the park.

Chelsea have a couple of short term injuries to deal with. Cech will not take part and Drogba will start on the bench. In fact Carlo Ancellotti had already named his team for the game 48hrs before kick-off, which is testament to the relative clean bill of health he has at his club.

Sir Alex has confirmed that Owen and Rooney will each get 45 minutes. The Da Silva twins are out and so is Patrice Evra which makes it interesting to see how possibly Gary Neville and O'Shea will do on the flanks. Wes Brown might get the nod ahead of the captain though but ultimately, a good performance is what we fans can only ask for as it would slide us nicely into the new season.
Cheers!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

AFTER PRE-SEASON!


Sir Alex recently branded the Community Shield as another pre-season fixture for United but I beg to disagree with the wise Gaffer. I think the games where defeats would hurt less ended yesterday.

United took on a League of Ireland XI and duly surprised no one by thrashing the patched up side 1-7. More importantly for us was that our World Cup players got a sniff of pre-season action and I'm glad it wasn't against the kind of opposition that would drain them of any energies that they've gathered while on break.
Park(2), Evans, Hernandez, Valencia, Nani and Michael Owen got us the goals. That Hernandez has a goal per game ratio for Mexico and that he has just about that with us (despite playing just cameo roles) is something that will give many fans hope for what leies ahead with him.

Now as I mentioned earlier, last night was the last night when defeat would hardly make me lose sleep so hopefully Sir Alex and his players will not treat the game on Sunday as 'another pre-season fixture'.
And Why?
Because for starters I thought Chelsea robbed us of it last season (Ballack's act on Evra still hurts me) and that they did get twice lucky against us in the league so its high time we put one over them.
It ought to give the players added confidence going into the new season if they can head into it with a win over the lucky Champions.
Chelsea have been on a run of three successive pre-season defeats so it shouldn't be against us that that run in is ended.
More of that in the preview!

Cheers ya'll!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

UNITED 'KIDS' TURN ON FIVE STAR PERFORMANCE!


One thing is for certain; The stick Sir Alex and his young 'kids' were getting recently will have to subside for a while at least given what we saw last night.
Beating an MLS All Star team (albeit having never been done before by an English side) is not one of those things that will move me from my seat but having five goals scored by a supposed bunch of 'not good enough' kids is what ought to raise eye-brows.
The thing is Sir Alex has done it before and could easily do it again---win all with kids! So those that criticise his decision not to dip in the transfer market are best advised to keep their cards to themselves until until United finish third in the league, and get knocked out of every Cup competition at the first time of asking.

The biggest news of the night however was the brilliant cameo performance of Javier Hernandez. I thought he looked lively when he came on and his finish has given us that itch of what he could actually turn out to be at OT.

Meanwhile Sir Alex has defended the Glazers! [I had some difficulty typing that]. Anyhow, our manager feels that the situation would have been no different had the club been bought by anyone else. He also drives home the point he's been making all year long that the Glazers have given him the money to buy any player that he wanted.

Yuck!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

AFTER GAME 3, GOING ON TO GAME 4!


United LOST their first pre-season game on Sunday night against Kansas City Wizards (of all teams) albeit in controversial circumstances. Needless to say that the debate of goal line technology did feature in this one but given the relative unimportance of the fixture, no dust was raised about the manner in which the Wizard won the match.

From our perspective, well, it was only a matter of time before inexperience showed. Sir Alex was quick to use that 'excuse' to underline that he started with a back four that included Rafael, Smalling and Evans, not to mention rookie goalie Ben Amos.
One of our bright spots from the game should be that Berbatov finally buried the ghosts of that FA Cup semifinal penalty-shootout miss (against Everton) with a lazy lovely spot-kick.

We've had three games on the tour so far and I'm not impressed with the midfield we intend to start the season with. For starters, Scholes and Giggs will play just half the games next season so that leaves us with Fletcher, Carrick and Gibson--not quite intimidating of you ask me. Worse is the news that I've just read over the Internet that Anderson and Hargreaves might be omitted form Sir Alex's Premier League 25 (under the new rules). It only leave us with the expectation that the manager shall sign a creative spark before the window closes, or that we shall have to cross our fingers even harder.
The press has one or two reasons to believe that we're favourites to sign Mesut Ozil but again, that is just speculation. Meanwhile David Gill and Sir Alex are convinced that there is money to sign players---if only there was 'value' in the market.

The fourth and final game we'll play in America will be against the MLS All Star team that includes Londan Donovan. This will prove a hell of a test for our lads and it remains to be seen if Fergie will still name a rookie side for this one as they are well capable of handing us a thrashing. It'll be as if we're playing against the US National soccer team. (especially when you consider that the coach is Bob Bradley).

Chicharito joined the squad in America after returning from holiday and its likely that we'll see him in action for us on Wednesday night. Given what he's done at the world cup, I'm sensing that the expectation will be quite high as far as he's concerned.

The season proper draws ever closer!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

AFTER GAME 2, GOING ON TO GAME 3!


Manchester United have already got two pre-season games under their belt. The game against Philadelphia in mid-week was just about the perfect work-out that our players needed. I certainly didn't want us to romp the opposition in the manner we did last summer in Asia. Gabriel Obertan got us the winner--the first time he's hit the back of the net for the club. One hopes he can carry his all-action displays into the season. The other outstanding performer on the night were Danny Welbeck who I'm meant to understand could be loaned out to a Premier League club.

On the transfer front, Sir Alex remains firm in his stance that United do have enough firepower in them to last the course next term so no one new is in as far as that is concerned. However, the biggest news on the transfer front was about keeping one of our key players. Coming in yesterday, David Gill broke the news that Nemanja Vidic had agreed a long term contract at the club. That went a long way in soothing fans who have waited all summer to hear 'positive' news coming through from OT.

United play Kansas City wizards tomorrow evening in their third pre-season fixture. Meanwhile the World Cup stars return to Carrington on Wednesday so hopefully i the last week of the month, everything will just jell together for the new season.

Monday, 19 July 2010

AFTER GAME 1 GOING ON TO GAME 2!


So United were 3-1 comfortable winners over Celtic. Yeah well, nothing much you can read into the game besides the ,an of the match performance from a certain 'lazy' 'flop' player.

Chris Smalling made his debut for us but it as clear that the lad still has a lot to learn. He gave away a penalty--but that never really comes into the reckoning when the team eventually wins. Besides, the lad did quite well whenever he went upfront.
I think the Da Silva twins should either be converted into wingers or given some serious coaching about mean defending. They are that good and at the same time that bad!

Celtic were by no means easy opponents as they are as good as many of the teams we get to play each season. So this is the part where I say that it will be nerve itching of we don't play even better against Philadelphia on Wednesday night/morning (depending on where you live).

Sir Alex has put rather strong faith in the players he has at his disposal so hopefully the lads realise that they'll have to do a '96 this coming season.
If they do then we shall not be moved that Joe Cole has become a Dipper!