Saturday, 27 February 2010


Penalties...anyone? Five of the last six visits to the new Wembly have ended in penalties. United have won and lost a fair share of those. Villa provide the opposition in tomorrow's League Cup final.
We've had a bumpy ride this season but because we are Manchester United, we can still turn this season into a memorable one. Sunday is the first of few opportunities for us to do it. It's a another day out at Wembly and it's a chance for us to win the first piece of silverware that the season has to offer. I really hope that the lads can play this final as though its our last shot at silverware this year. It's how we should approach every game between now and the end of the season.

Team news. We've got everyone available save for the long term absentees and the trio of Rio, Giggs and Anderson. Nani completes the third of his three match ban (incurred against Villa).

In any other season, this would have been a walk-over final. However, Villa have improved over the last couple of years. Martin O'Neil has turned them into a machine that is difficult to break down and yet lethal in attack. That they have taken 4 points from us this season in the league is no fluke. I therefore don't think our players need a team talk for their third encounter with familiar opposition.

So Come on UNITED!

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Fair enough, the lads went out on Tuesday night and got the job done. We beat West Ham at home and in more ways than one, managed to recover from the setback at the weekend.
However, we have not altogether forgotten that reverse at Goodison Park. United have impersonated 'unpredictable' this season. I mean, we have been beaten 6 times in the league already and yet we're still in with a shout at a fourth league title in a row. We're well poised to reach the last eight of the Champions League but I doubt any Red has a hope of lifting the giant trophy for a fourth time at the Bernabeu come May. The reality is that we could actually achieve it (stranger things have happened). We might also have the first silverware of the season in the trophy cabinet before Monday. Hell, we could even win a treble this year despite all our problems heading into and during this season.

As a fan, you get the feeling that its turning out to be a season of 'so near and yet so far'. We might lose the Cup final this weekend, Chelsea are certainly the best placed team in the league, and the Champions League is the Champions League. Yes, we can talk of a treble but what about ending the trophy empty handed? Why wait to talk about it in May when we do it now.
Now I'm not saying that United are going to finish empty handed but I feel that there are certain issues that we need to address at this point of the season if we are to maintain our form into the run in. It's unusual that at this stage of the season, many things are going against us instead of vice versa. I mean, you thought that at this stage Rio Ferdidnad and Nemanja Vidic would be playing together. As it stands, Rio;s back problem, which the manager said was solved, has recurred again. We now face a Cup final and the visit of AC Milan without him. The mos disturbing aspect is that it almost seems like he's aggravated his injury whilst serving a 4 match ban. It;s hard to comprehend really. We Brown and Jonny Evans appear tired. On the bright side, Vida is back but again, it's fingers crossed that he doesn't get injured again this season.

Last season at this stage, we had scored just 48 goals but had 66 league points. This season, we've hit the back of the net 68 times but we only have 60 league points. It really means that but for the problems we've had in defence this year, we would be top of the league by a mile.
Now we all know one excuse in case....

Anderson had been in Brazil all along (albeit illegally), but he returned for the game against West Ham in midweek. Unfortunately for the lad, he injured himself and will now be out of action for 6 months. It's always heart breaking when you are ruled out of the World Cup so you can only feel for the lad. As far as United is concerned, it means that we are dry to the bare bones for the visit of Milan. With both Carrick and Anderson out, it might means the likes of Gibson could get a call up for such a high profile game.
Again, it's one of those things working against United in the run in. We've not had it fair with injuries but given the size of the squad, I'm afraid that only a few fans will lower their expectations for the season.

It's lifting the Carling Cup on Sunday and then pushing on in the League in pursuit of Chelsea as we await the draw for the Quarterfinals/Semifinals of the champions league! Is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Old Trafford celebrates 100 years but for many a fan, it's quite bleak. Defeat to Everton on Saturday was, for me, damaging as far as our title hopes are concerned this season. It's not to say that we're out of it, but given the determination of Chelsea and the fixture list ahead of us, we can only hope.
To be precise, if we are going to win the title this year, we might have to win all the remaining 11 games starting tonight.

West Ham are one of those teams that we love to beat whilst at home. Tonight is a must win. There will be no way back for us if we drop more points at home.
I think Rio and Vida should both be in our defence for this one so hopeful that department is sorted out.The defence won us the title last year but due to a crisis of injuries this year, we have let in more goals than I care to remember.
Chelsea do have a couple of difficult games next so a win tonight is all the more important.

All that we are asking from the players is a little bit more urgency. We need to play out of our skins for the next couple of months. That will be the price for making history.

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Saturday, 20 February 2010


I don't know where I've even got the ****8 to post this.....

Anyhow, United were quite simply disgusting today. And nobody should even get started on the 'tiredness excuse', I'm sorry but Manchester United has never had that as an excuse. Last seaon we played over 66 games and yet we still managed to win three trophies. This season, its almost like we never participated in the FA Cup, we've not been distracted by the Super Cup or Club World Cup and yet here we are in February complainig of tiredness. It's not like we've been on form the whole season to buy into it. We've only just got going. I mean we already have 6 defeats to our name in Feb and yet our last 10 games involve Liverpool, Fulham, Man City, Spurs, Chelsea. As far a I'm concerned, we need to win all games to win the league--whether the current team can achieve that, I don't know. Even if we did however, this defeat might just be the one that costs us the league. As it stands, Chelsea now have a four point lead ovee us.

The manager pointed out fatigue in his post match comments but I'm not buying into that. He also said that we left something in Milan, well my suggestion is that somebody gets on a plane to Italy to return what we left there--quick, because on this form, any team in the league can have a field day against us.
I thought he should have started Vidic because the Brown Evans partnership has failed to click all season. I mean all the goals that we let in today can all be blamed on the two centre backs. For the equaliser, how and why does Brown turn his back on an opponent taking a shot. For me he did two wrongs in that move; he managed to obstruct EVDS and also failed to block the shot from Bily.....nov.
For the second, Piennar shoots across the goal but I can't indertsand how Evans lets the ball through his legs in the six yard box and in alsmot the same instant, the same ball goes through/past Brown. Two centre backs beaten by a simple pass in the box---it seems like they learnt nothing and forgot nothing from the blunders in Milan (read Seedorf).

Rooney wasn't at the races today. Fair enough to him, he can't be top every game but agin an off form professional or in his case world class forward cannot have a game devoid of ball control. The lad was let down by his frist touch all game. I also thought that he should have burried the chance when he had an open goal. Surely a man of his strength coudn't have been bullid by Phil Neville that easily. He wasn't really the Wayne we esxpected to turn up today. In fact, he might have been the one thing we left in Milan.
Gary Neville was almost not match for Donovan. He was poor today. I however did like one or two crosses in the box. Carrick was anonymous in the middle of the park whilst Park was not as influential as he was in Milan. Berbatov was his langiud self but at leat he managed to get on the scoreshet.
Brown and Evans were the worst of the bunch today.
Vidic nd Ferdinad will strt on Tuesday in what is the first of ten must win games.
In the meantime, I'll be trying all sorts of ways of committing suicide.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Everton beat Chelsea 2-1 a week or so ago at Goodison Park but we beat AC Milan 2-3 in Milan on Tuesday. That means in all probability, we should be in the right frame of mind and gear to take all three points on Merseyside this Saturday lunchtime.
It's an early kick-off so we have another opportunity to leap frog Chelsea--this time by two points. That means if results go our way this weekend, we will be official table leaders with same number of games played. We're heading into March so we should be looking at that and then trying to build a lead at the top.
At the moment, we're in such great form that I no longer care who is next. Unfortunately, as I've time and time again blogged here, football has a way of kicking you in the teeth when you least expect it. United could have easily suffered a humiliating defeat in Italy had Milan punished at least two of our several defensive lapses. The thing is we can't keep making those mistakes and getting away with them. Someone will punish us and a side like Everton knows all too well how to do that---Chelsea paid dearly for every blunder they made.

Chelsea seem to be in that sort of form that, whilst not bad, is neither good either. We need to capitalise. Taking the table leadership from them on weekend when their minds are on the Blue half of Milan is cranking up the pressure! Extending that lead or taking it away from them again on Tuesday whilst they play Inter is cranking up the pressure. We could head into the Carling Cup final next week when we are a couple of points clear in the league. We certainly have the opportunity. The thing about this final third of the season is that every game is as important as the next and the one before. It can therefore be difficult to keep up but I guess our players have been AWOL for pretty much the whole season to complain. It's just three months of football left and yet this is the first time in the season that we are completely confident in our players.

Sir Alex will change the team a bit from that which beat Milan. Ferdinand is suspended so Brown returns alongside Vida. Nani is suspended so Valencia comes in at right wing. Berbatov is most likely to start i a 4-4-2 (my mind tells me he'll go 4-5-1 again). Giggs is out injured. That means we could get to see Gabriel Obertan at some stage in the game. We've got another league game in midweek but given the setting, this is likely to be more difficult.

We only managed a point there last season so hopefully we can do better this time round. Expect the obvious reception Wayne has always got from the Everton fans. Loius Saha will not hesitate to pull the trigger if we let him and then someone needs to mark London Donovan. This guy is a snake. He glides from defence into your penalty box with so much ease. He has an eye for goal as well. Keeping him quiet could be the difference between winning this match and not.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Funny enough, before kick-off, all United fans would have taken a 3-2 win at the San Siro but after seeing the game, there is that feeling of injustice that we did to ourselves. Many would have preferred the scoring to end at 1-3 to United. As fate would have it however, Milan pulled a goal back courtesy of Seedorf, who I must say I'm glad didn't start.

United treated us to a nervy start that only increased the tension in yours truly. I mean that was just about as nervy as any football side can get. A couple of friends of mine were still taking their seats when Evra failed to make a telling clearance and Ronaldinho scored via Carrick's boot, a goal that would have been termed as an own goal if he were playing for United.
It was no more than Milan deserved but again you thought that United would respond; instead, they gave the Italians licence to roam in our half and certainly through our defence with little or no checks. Whatever Evans and Ferdinand ate last least Sir Alex shared my thoughts, because goodness me, we could have been up to 3-0 down in that first half hour.

I said in my preview for the game that Dida was past his best. This is one goalkeeper that will, on current form guarantee yo a goal a game. It was therefore not surprising to see that our next few efforts on target ended up in the back of the net. Scholes was fortunate to score, but again Milan were fortunate in their early goal as well. After the break, United were pretty much better but up to that point we owed our status in the game to EVDS who kept out Pirlo's drive.

Rooney then found the Milan defence wanting. He headed home twice in a little under a quarter an hour and at that point, we were all but through to the last eight. Sadly though, our players slept again and Seedorf had the luxury of 'back-side footing' home.
His goal means that Milan is well and truly alive in the tie so we have to keep our wits about them come 10th March.

Evra is responsible for Milan's early lead as he could have done better with that clearance.
Evans was guilty of giving Hunteelar all the respect and space he needed.
Rafael was a bit too shaky on Ronaldinho--for a player that is blessed with tricks, yo tread softly. A little more judgement here Rafa....oh and by the way, nice haircut!
Ferdinand seems way off his fitness levels of a season back.
Scholes wanted more time than he was afforded on the ball--thankfully he managed to put his game. One or two misplaced passes from him could have cost us.
I thought Fletcher and Park were not at fault for anything.
Nani needs to learn a little of what Rooney wants. To be fair to him, Nani was delaying his passes in the box to allow more players in but Rooney will not care if he's in alone so long as the ball is put in. His two goals testify to that.

At the end of the day, United did do what I think counts, and that is take some of the chances that come your way. If we manage to get through, it will less likely be that we played better than Milan but rather that we took our chances when they came in that first leg.
It's now a record 16 away games without defeat in the Champions League.
Wayne Rooney now stands at a personal best 25 goals---30 can't be an impossibility now!

Monday, 15 February 2010


For some reason, we've failed to negotiate past Milan in Europe. Four defeats over four two legged ties. When the draw was made, perhaps this was the least eye-catching statistic as the world media quickly turned it into a David Beckham ceremonial return to OT.

Perhaps United should forget all about Beckham and realise that they are up against what you would call their 'boogey' team in Europe. Perhaps one would be right to say that United have come a long way since that 3-0 humiliation at the San Siro. We had a team that night that had an average age that would give the so called Arsenal kids' a run for their plaudits, whilst Milan had all but a couple of players below 29.
Perhaps United have grown to adapt the rigours of the knock out phases of the Champions League as they have made it to two consecutive finals in this unforgiving modern era where such a feat is as difficult as defending the crown has proved.

Regardless, it's AC Milan once again tomorrow and the lads have a job to do. It's a two-legged tie so there's no need to go for broke....not yet anyway.
The most we can hope for in this game is an away goal or two or at wost still be in the tie when the second leg comes round. See, Milan have always had us at their home in the second leg and that has nullified our efforts in the first leg. This time, we have them at OT for the decider so just like Inter found out last year, and Barca the year before, we can push the tempo at home.
The manner in which we approached the City game a couple of weeks ago in a two legged semi is what we'll be hopping for.

Ferdinand will start (thank God UEFA) is not managed by the FA! Vidic could make a surprise return from injury; nonetheless we have Evans and Brown to cover. I'm thinking that Brown should take right back as Rafael could easily be exposed on the night due to his inexperience.
Fletcher and Carrick have had a good run in the side lately but I have this feeling that Sir Alex will recall Anderson to stifle the Milan midfield. Speaking of stifle, all could play as the Gaffer looks to continue his so far very successful 4-5-1 that has usually been the case away from home in Europe over the years.

Milan have a few old heads in their side but the pace of Pato and Hunteelar makes it easy for them to combine precision with speed. Ronaldinho is the main channel of attack and you get the feeling that he will be up for this one in a bid to reclaim his spot in Brazil for the World Cup. Dida can be a shaky keeper so I really hope that the lads could work him with a few shots. One might get spilled into the path of Roooney.
It's a hostile atmosphere at the San Siro but most of this team has been through this over the past few years. We are good enough for the task at hand, and we will certainly do it if WE BELIEVE!

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Now Manchester United has a real task on their hands over the next three weeks or so---AC Milan. It wont be easy finding a formula to dump the European heavyweights ought of the Champions League. Having said that, we've not managed to find that formula in the four meetings we've had against them in double legged European ties.
Some might say that Milan are past their very best three which was three years ago, but they are one of the few sides in Europe that can all upon seasoned campaigners who know a thing or two about winning a fixture like this one. In other words, just like we can call on a Paul Scholes, or Ryan Giggs to maximum effect, so can they call on a Dida, or Seedorf, etc.

Not surprisingly, the British press has already made a big deal of the whole Beckham returning to United thing. I'm sure the manager will remind our players not to get involved in this media circus---wasn't that the very cause of David's exit from OT?
Leonardo is however not in the mood; the Milan boss is almost certain to start Becks on the bench. It might be a brilliant move as Becks appearance from the start could work against his team and himself as well. Anyway that's their headache.

United should be able to work the tie in their favour as we've got them in the second leg at home. That means we could do with an away goal or two. If we are to get beaten, then a one goal deficit should be the worst defeat to come away with. We fans have to believe that our squad has come a long way from that 3-0 humbling at the San Siro in 2007. We must do better; come to think of it, we can't possibly be any worse than we were that night.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


At start of play, nothing other than a win would have been deemed a result. 90minutes later and a further fifteen to digest all the results of the league last night and there was no feeling of points dropped. If Chelsea had got a point at Goodison Park, then there would be some itchy feeling about the result.
That we played over an hour with ten men and yet still managed to dominate a game away from home against our League Cup final opponents is no mean feat.
We're now just a point behind Chelsea, and really that is just about as much as we could have asked for before kick-off last night.

Having said all that, and given my greed for success, I still think we could have won the match. Nani is the biggest culprit for today. His tackle was, on my watch, naive, reckless and needless. I mean it's not like he was the last man or anything, the ball was in their half! How do you go two footed, studs showing away from home. I emphasise away from home because the noise made by the home fans is always likely to influence the ref. It wasn't the worst tackle in the world but I thought that the Portuguese should have known better. It sent me reminiscing about the time he got sent off a couple of seasons ago against West Ham and missed our last game of the season and two of the following season for a headbutt on a West Ham player. You only wonder what this could do to his form. That's three games out for another player and we are not sure if he will come back all guns blazing. When you also consider the fact that Giggs is out for a month, it's a bit scary.
Valencia could have placed the ball in the net without putting is foot through the ball when he was clean through.
I'm well aware that we don't have our best defence at the moment, but we let in a cheap goal. We should have dealt with it better.

It's now a week's rest till Milan so we'll definitely be expecting a United performance come Tuesday.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Fans will tomorrow be treated to a dress rehearsal for the soon to come Carling Cup final at the end of the month. United take on Aston Villa tomorrow in what should prove to be a stern test for the Champions who are clearly hitting form at the right time in the season. We've grown accustomed to seeing United hit at least three past the goalies but we many have to make do with one tomorrow.

In one of my earlier posts, I wrote that United had the best attack and defence of the league. After looking at Villa's stats recently I beg to correct myself. Aston Villa have statistically the meanest backline in the league. It says a lot about the task awaiting United tomorrow when you consider that Villa have kept four clean sheets in their last four games. Furthermore, they have let in just seven goals all season at Villa Park---the venue for tomorrow's battle.

Take nothing away from their back four but I think their form at the back is down to the brilliance of Brad Friedel. The American veteran can be as good as any goalkeeper in the world at times and you only have to look at his performances against United and you'll know what I'm talking about. He is one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League every season.

Our forwards will therefore have to take the chances that come their way as Villa will not mind taking a point from this one.

Having said all that I'd like to think that our side has also turned a corner as far as defending is concerned. We've let in just the one goal at the Emirates in our last four so that should give us confidence in our defence as well.
Rooney is red hot so hopefully he maintains that for us.

I like the mentality in the camp at the moment. Wes Brown has come out and said it's not about the want to win now, it's that we have to win. I really hope that's the mentality our players will carry into the next few weeks.
Tomorrow's game is our last game before we play AC Milan in the Champions League. We need to go into that game on the back of a win. Infact the next four or so games could basically define our decision.
Sir Alex trusts the players to deliver and so shall we!

Sunday, 7 February 2010


Let's be honest, but for wasteful finishing, United could have easily hammered Arsenal 5 last week. Yesterday, we could have put at least seven past Pompey had we taken all our 'easy chances'.
It seems as though we'll not make it past the five goal mark this season, but 5 will do.
We've seen United score quite a few goals lately, and I'm thankful that right now we have the best attack and defence in the league. At one point it seemed as though we'd have to win the league on points as Chelsea led us by a goal difference of +11 going into November. That we've turned that to +3 in our favour is testament to how well the lads have responded to our poor form before the turn of the year.

Pomey got hammered, not least because their defenders were willing to do us the favour of putting the ball at the back the net for us. The Dubious Goals committee will at some point have to some to terms with us and award our players their goals as we're soon heading into double figures for the season as far as own goals scored for us. I think it stands at 7 goals now depending on how you view Michael Carrick's goal.

This is a new sub series I recently started. It doesn't matter how well we play, or by how many we win, there will always be one or two blemishes.
Firstly, Valencia once again failed to shoot when it mattered. The time he tried to shoot is when he should have passed the ball.
Nani played well enough but it is a worry that the manager puts him on the left and he still crosses every ball with his right. The question is, Is he left-footed as well? The manager needs to look into that.
Berbatov should have taken his first half chance.I thought that was too casual for him-- Well he, is casual but that took it too far. The least he could have done is hit the target.
Diouf should have scored as well. I mean can he ever get as good a pass as the one Owen gave him. Thankfully for him, he's young. He can get that level headed mentality that will enable him take such chances.
Other than that, we're good.

We play Aston Villa on Wednesday. Regardless of the outcome in the London derby today, we must win that as well. Aston Villa beat us at home, not so long ago so we need to avenge that defeat. Make no mistake about it, we'll need all the momentum we can gather for this one. Villa can spoil the party.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


In his pre-match press conference, Sir Alex has summarised what I thought I would have struggled to put across in my preview today.
Our result at the Emirates has put us on our way to a fourth successive title so as it stands and given the strength of our rivals, it doesn't matter who we're against, we have to take three points off everyone. That essentially means that we have to put together a run of wins that will see us create day light between us and our rivals over the next few months. It's champions' form that we're now looking for now whether the game is against bottom club Portsmouth or title rivals Chlelsea or the likes of Spurs.

Our direct rivals for the title are in direct confrontation so that means failure to win today will be as sickening as contracting the Ebola virus. It's that simple, today is one of those games in the season when United must win.

Vidic could start today. We have a problem with Rafael so that means Brown could play at right-back or even Neville. Ferdinand (who is now the England Captain) is still suspended.
I think the manager should give the 4-5-1 a rest and start Berbatov alongside Wayne Rooney. The Bulgarian has really sat out games this past few weeks and could use a game. Michael Owen could also get a sniff today. The rest of the selection is the manager's headache but whatever team he sends out, we should be able to win.
We could also make use of the chance to boost our goal difference a little more.

Finally, today is Feb 6th and at 3:04, Munich will be remembered. The lives of those who perished in the Air Disaster will forever be remembered. In that regard, I like to think that the game willl be pre-ceded with a minutes' silence........Busby's Babes!

Thursday, 4 February 2010


No updates on this blog during the week because it was essentially a week off for Manchester United. We'd had a rough fortnight battling Man City over two legs and then had a crunch game against Arsenal at the Emirates. Thankfully, we came out on top in each of those ties and I thought that for the players it was well earned rest.
If you compare the fixture list last season to what we have now, you'll know what I mean by 'rest'.
Unfortunately, there are times when such rest can kill the momentum in the camp. United have upped their levels of performance these past few weeks so the fans will be disappointed if we revisits our early and mid season form.
We've got Pompey at home next and given the Arsenal-Chelsea clash on Sunday, it really is a must win for us---surely I can't be asking for too much!

Now this past week has been rather interesting and the picture at the top of this post goes a long way in justifying that. Apparently John Terry has, well, done it again! The Chelsea captain just can't zip it up! You've read the story and know the details.
What I only want to highlight is that we could well point to this saga if come May, Chelsea fail to win the league. One might argue that the two points dropped at Hull and the mediocre performance at Burnley were as a result of the dark cloud that JT brought upon his beloved club! More on that in May.

Owen Hargreaves seems to be done for. Sir Alex has left him out of the Champions League squad for the knock-out ties. It's a bit of a blow for us because a player like him returning could have only made us stronger for the title-run in. I really hope that he recovers for at least a couple of games this season. Having said that, Sky Sports reckon that he may not even make it for the World Cup. I'm willing to write off this season if he can start next season and stay fit for most of it.

Wayne Rooney is the player of the month of January and the PFA fan's choice as well. What more can one say other than he deserves those awards.

Ahead of the preview for the weekend, it's 2 points now between us and Chelsea so that means beating Pompey will take us top. It's now time for us to intensify that pressure on Chelsea so that we can stamp our authority on the league going into the last three months.

Monday, 1 February 2010


It was the first game on Sky 3-D but little did we know that this was going to be one of those 3-Dimensional performances against Arsenal. See, in the recent past, we've had games against Arsenal in which we had the poor Londoners a kind of thrashing for every narrow defeat they hand us. I mean these are top four rivals but it is not rare for United to put a treble or so past these guys. We'll raise the roof when we beat Liverpool 4 but not quite against Arsenal. 6-1, 4-2, 4-0, 3-1 twice are some of the recent scores in this fixture.

Yesterday was another of those games when United were 'in the mood' against Arsenal. I thought Nani was the Man Of The Match once again as he was the telling difference between the two teams in attack---come to think of it, he actually played like Ronaldo (save for when he missed THAT chance in the second half).
Wayne Rooney seems to be enjoying himself as a lone striker--the lad is now well and truly on his way to claiming the Premier League Golden Boot after scoring his 20th in the league. His goal was also his 100th in the league--you might remember that his first was against Arsenal.
23 goals so far this season (Ronado who?). Above all, I thought his goal won us the game, albeit early. I really hope he keeps this up for as long as he is at the club.

I'll do the negative part of the blog later...a bit late for duty here....meanwhile, it's over to you Chelsea once again!