Monday, 29 March 2010

OVER TO GERMANY----BAYERN MUNICH VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!

'Holy Week' gets underway with a Champions League semi final quarterfinal against Bayern Munich. Just in case you haven't got the point in the strikethrogh, this game is more or less a semifinal as the winner over the two legs will almost certainly be guaranteed a place in the final (no offence Lyon and Bordeaux).
It's therefore that vital for us. I mean the least gratitude we can show for getting the (on paper) easier side of the draw is coming away with an away win from Munich!---okay that's too arrogant but we are United!

On a more serious note, we need to do ourselves a favour on Tuesday evening. The second leg will be on the back of an energy sapping game against Chelsea at the weekend so we shouldn't leave ourselves with a lot of work to do back at home. That means a win or a score draw should do us well. If it gets to the worst, a narrow defeat accompanied with an away goal is enough for us---anything less I'm afraid is unacceptable! (like that word).

Bayern are not your ordinary European team that you think you'll beat with an eye closed. They are an established power house in European competition--more successful than us in that respect and so have the required pedigree to put their domestic form behind them and beat us quite easily. Ribery and Robben are their 'Wayne Rooney' at the moment so we've got to deal with that. It's actually why I never fancied them as our opponents as both sides' strength lay in wing play. It means our fullbacks will have to keep their wits about them and not venture much forward. Just to drive home the point, play like we did at AC Milan. It therefore means that in a bid to keep our right wing mobile,the manager might draft in Rafeal and thus end the captain Neville's fantastic run in the side.
You can be sure that Park, Fletcher, and Rooney will start so the manager will surely go for the tried, tested and hugely successful 4-5-1 formation. The need for an impact player however could see Valencia benched whilst Nani starts.

Confidence is high in the camp and you get the feeling that a good result could fly us over Chelsea this Saturday. It's imperative for the players that whist we are enjoying a good run of wins, it only takes one defeat to change the shape of the whole season. The payers and manager have been in this situation before and so we really have to take one game at a time and play to win it. The name of the game at this stage of the season is win your next game as a means of winning your next!

Bayern have their strengths in attack but they have gapping holes at the back and so I hope that we exploit that weakness and take a positive result to work with at home next week!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

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FANTASTIC!----BOLTON VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!

Well what more could we have asked from United yesterday? Personally it was all about the three points given that we were not top of the table at kick off. Instead, the champions treated us to another nervy but still superb performance in which we handed out another thrashing to a Premier League team.

For starters, I think its fair to say that we've missed Mr Own Goal for a while---I mean given the frequency with which we were getting them a couple of months ago, it was a drought since our last came at Villa. Giggs broke his arm in that game after providing an assist for Mr. OG, and we've been missing him since. He broke that jinx on his return yesterday by providing yet another assist from Mr, OG and what a goal it was this time.
I think the one we got yesterday will give Diaby a run for his money for own goal of the season. That's over 11 times this season now that United have had the opposition score a goal for them---and I have to say I like the feeling.

Make no mistake about it, Bolton gave us a game yesterday and I shiver when I think of what if we hadn't got that all important first goal or what it EVDS hadn't kept out Bolton twice---the second save a sure candidate for save of the season. (that's 2 nominations that the game has won).
It's why I thought that Nemanja Vidic played his best game for us this season yesterday. Without Rio, I thought Evans was not enough cover for him to deal with the aerial threat of Davies and Elmander and pretty much every Bolton player. That he dealt with just about everything in our box justifies the fact that he is my Man of The Match.

Sir Alex gambled by leaving out Wayne Rooney but it paid off. Berbatov was a magician upfront alone. He helped himself to a brace and hence made us forget about Wayne for the moment. He didn't do it all on his own though, Nani and Valencia were a nuisance to the Bolton defenders all evening and the former helped himself to two assists. If Nani can maintain the consistency he is developing this season, it would make us a wing based attacking team and that is quite difficult to handle for any opposition.

Gibson got the fourth goal---another example of the lad's ability to be in the right place at the right time and hit the ball well enough. We've taken another important step towards a fourth consecutive title and adding another piece of history to this magnificent football club. Six games now separate us from that achievement. The next is a shortcut to achieving that. Whether our players take it is what we'll find out soon. Given that Chelsea had got 12 goals in two games before this one, it was nice seeing us claw 4 back. That leaves us with a goal difference that is two inferior going into the titanic clash next Saturday.

In the meantime, there is the little matter of a Champions League quarterfinal tie against Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening!
Build up to follow!

Friday, 26 March 2010

INTO THE HOME RUN---BOLTON VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


I did make a sort of preview for this one in my precurrent post. I'll therefore make it snappy.

When you get to as few games as 7 left in the league season, you know you're heading for the home run. The thing about this stage of the season is that unless, you've made some breathing space for yourself e.g in the days we could be 13 points clear at this stage, it actually transforms into a sort of knock-out Cup competition.
In other words, the league becomes more or less a numerous Cup ties played till the end of the season.

That is ideally the situation we're in at the moment. Unusually, this season, we've been unable to hang onto top spot officially for more than a fortnight. The reality is that we're running out of games to make these comebacks that will see us reclaim top spot whenever we lose it. This is what I mean by 'Cup ties' in the league. Whilst you can still recover from losing six league games after before March, you might not recover from dropping two points in the last 7 games of the season.
It's why the game against Bolton for me is more imperative a fixture than the Champions League away tie to Bayern on Tuesday. We can always recover from Bayern in the second leg the following week but when shall we meet Bolton again this season to make up for (God forbid) dropped points?

It's why I pray that the manager goes for his strongest available squad for this one. It will make more sense to start with them and put them off when we are on our way to victory than straining them in the last 20minutes in a bid to get an equaliser or winner.

Team news: Rooney might be rested (or injured, deepening on which paper you read), Hargo is training with the first team now. The rest of the team should be pretty much unchanged from what we usually have out there. Berbatov is almost certain to start this one.

Bolton have a very good home record under Owen Coyle and we've not had it easy on our last two visits there. I've always thought that the faster you put to bed league games before Champions League duty in midweek, the better for you, so here;s to our forwards to take them as they come!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

LOOKING AHEAD TO UNITED'S 'HOLY WEEK'


The old phrase, 'so far, so good' applies to United right now. It's not to say that we've had the perfect season--not yet anyway but that given that some wrote us off after selling two of our best players including the best player in the world at the time, and given the injury crisis we've had this season, we're still the best placed team to win the league and are in the last eight of the Champions League.
For what its worth, this post provides a means of going through the most crucial seven days of our season unscathed.
Domestically, we've got Bolton away in the EPL late on Saturday, three days later, its a trip to Munich and the climax (hopefully not anticlimax) will be an early kick off against a well rested Chelsea side in a top of the table collision at OT.

Granted, none of the games is less significant that the other. Come to think of it, three points at Bolton (which prima facie appears the easiest) could psychologically make the Chelsea game easier. In a way, the foundations of that ame will be laid at the Reebok Stadium.
There is talk about the manager resting players ahead of Munich and also given that Rooney has pain in his knee but I think its bullocks!
I mean we have a team that is accustomed to playing at least twice a week. That ought to mean that the past two weeks are rare occurrence at this football club considering that we've not had any midweek football since we beat AC Milan at home.
That we played 68 games last season with more or less the same number of players and largely the same squad should help you put this into perspective.
Wayne Rooney can only be excused from the Bolton game if he's injured. It shouldn't be in the name of resting for Bayern. I mean we've got two legs to deal with Bayern whilst a slip up on Saturday might be the difference between being champions and making history or not.

Having said that, I feel that whichever side the manager picks for Bolton, it should be able to do a job. the Reebok stadium is however not one of those places you'd like your team to visit right now. Bolton have a new manager with a style that might surprise those who haven't watched them lately whilst they have only leaked one goal in six at home. Add that stat to the fact that we lost 1-0 there 2 seasons ago and then won 1-0 there last season courtesy of a last minute Berba winner and you know ho close this game could be.
We play after our rivals play so there is that extra pressure that will be on us to win. That we are fresh from a major win in the league last week makes failure on Saturday all the more unacceptable.

We travel to Germany(wishing for Owen now) for the second time this season in the CL--this time to Munich. It's an away game so we'll only be looking for the away goal and to put ourselves in a good position for the home leg. (Not too much to ask for really, but a repeat of what we did at the San Siro is always welcome).
The Easter weekend finds us at home in a potentially season defining game against Chelsea at noon on Saturday. The importance of this fixture can't really be blogged right now so I'll leave it for then.
Winning all three games is by no means unachievable for United--in fact, this squad can! Difficult a task it is but the rewards are worth the sweat. This could be the week that United sow whatever we are to harvest in May because whichever way you look at it, all three results affect our progress in the title race at home and in Europe.

The league has been voted by the fans as the most wanted trophy this season and I couldn't agree more. It sucks to be European Champions and yet you are not the best team in your country. It means that the Bolton game should be treated with the respect it deserves. Any mistake could undo all the hard work put in this season. Hopefully, the manager will grill this into the lads.

Monday, 22 March 2010

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PARK JI SING!

No matter how poor a player you are, when you score the winner at Old Trafford, at the Stretford End, against Liverpool, you will never be forgotten! Park (definitely not a poor player) has just won himself close to legendary status at OT.

Now officially here's the review!
We started like we always do on such occasions i.e unsettled, nervy and no wonder that Liverpool scored within five minutes of kick-off. Regardless of how unsettled we were, the manner in which a striker of his calibre was allowed all the space and time to head past EVDS with arguably one of Europe's best back lines still baffles me. Rio Ferdinand must have known that if there was nay player he was going to mark yesterday, it was Torres. That he 'forgot' that in six minutes is really disappointing to put it mildly. I mean that goal gave Liverpool the confidence they were desperate for going into the game, so let's just say we made the game harder for ourselves in the first place.
Credit to the lads though for not giving in. Valencia won us a penalty soon after that I thought should have seen Mascherano sent off, and Torres booked for you know what.
Rooney put away the re-bound, and it was nice to see him celebrating like the ardent fan he is. I mean the goals against AC Milan only brought a smile on his face but that fist punch a couple of yards above the ground was something!
Fair to say that from then on United dominated but it wasn't pleasant seeing Carrick and co. giving the ball away cheaply in midfield. Fletcher was just about as guilty but he can be let off the hook given the number if times he hurried the Liverpool midfield and won us the ball. He was just about everywhere for me and that he summed it up with a glorious assist makes him FLOM's Man of the Match!

Like many of you, I was just about to call for the replacement of Park when he dived low and headed us into the lead. (Wonder how many more shirts we've just sold in Asia). It was nice to see him score because according to the formation, he was supposed to be Wayne's assistant in that department. He's also improved a lot greatly in terms of his goal contribution this season so that he was going to be subbed after missing a couple of chances to put us in the lead was a somewhat bitter. Thankfully though he scored and suddenly we wanted him to stay on pitch.
Great to see Giggs back but more importantly, that we held on for the win.

Seven games now stand between us and more history and silverware. Just as I've always preached on this blog, a win as massive as the one yesterday can have a psychological effect on your rivals. Chelsea must have been watching and how nervy they were when they failed to score a second against Blackburn yesterday. The knowledge of our victory must have got to their heads and caused them to drop two huge points.
We can now safely say that we are top of the league unless we f*** this up ourselves. We've got another week to rest and prepare for the next 'Cup final'.

And just one more point to highlight, Liverpool have made it to double figures for defeats this season. It's 10 and counting!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

MAN UNITED VS LIVERPOOL, CHELSEA AND ARSENAL!


Just in case you haven't yet got tomorrow's fixture into perspective, its actually United against all their big four rivals in the limited time of 90 minutes--and oh did I forget to mention that 'Failure Is Not An Option'!

Traditionally this is a big game for both clubs and from a United perspective, a must win--not that its the end of the world if we lose (because the world will not end tomorrow) but that failure is an almost certain goodbye kiss to a chance to claim two remarkable records this term. Winning the league for a 19th time is Sir Alex's passion whilst a fourth title in a row is golden history considering the number of sides that have defended the Premier League title. It really is worth fighting and possibly dying for. That we only have to win eight games of football to achieve that despite all the problems we've had this season is really a measure of the opportunity that we have. However as I've written in the past, it all comes down to how much the players want that history. The least we fans can ask for is the assurance that the lads will fight for it.
Arsenal and Chelsea are waiting for this result so winning is virtually a double blow against our rivals whilst losing is the equivalent on us.
The Chelsea game coming up in April could mean nothing if we do not pick up all three points tomorrow so one might accurately define this fixture as a season defining game. That should go a long way in reminding the players about how much energy and fight we'll need for this one. I mean all the hard work during the season could be undone tomorrow bar a miracle at the Emirates tonight and another at Ewood Park tomorrow night. In many ways, it really comes down to this.

We've got Ryan Giggs and Rafael available for this one---which is good news but again you hope that the manager does not play Scholes and Giggs at the same time. Liverpool will not give the pair the time and space they need to work so one at at time Fergie! On the other hand, how about keeping it Carrick, Fletcher, Scholes and Valencia as we've been doing in the past few weeks. Park has a case as well as Nani--whether the manager does it in the manner that worked so well against Milan is his headache. What I'm almost certain of is that Giggs will start and Rooney will be alone upfront to allow a five man midfield in a system that has surprisingly worked wonders for Fergie.

As far as our little rivals are concerned, well, firstly, Vidic has to find a way of marking Torres or Kuyt without fouling them because the ref will be influenced by his three straight red cards in this fixture. Ferdinand must come to terms with the pace of Torres as that cost us the crucial first goal in the earlier fixture this season.

Ultimately, its a home game and we cannot afford to drop home points in this closest of finishes.
So Come on UNITED!

Friday, 19 March 2010

BAYERN IT IS!---REACTION TO THE UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL DRAW!

Bayern Munich---the team against which United fans had their greatest night is what we'll face in the last eight. Given the fact that we could have been given Barca or Inter this at this stage, I think Bayern is not such a bad draw. I pit them in the category of AC Milan at the moment---not in the sense of age of players but that they are good enough to dismiss complacency form our players and yet not too difficult to beat on our day. This is a team that is no longer as feared as the days when they would ran away with the Bundesliga and concentrate on the Champions League. The only worry I do have for United is that our last eight opponents rely on the wings just as much as we do. Arjen Robben for instance has been the fulcrum of their attack this season. Ribery is another who could take our fullbacks apart on his day. That could mean that both legs might be filled with attacking football.

A much bigger incentive for United is that the semifinal draw has been rather kind to us on paper. We get to meet Lyon or Bordeaux in the last for as a reward for getting past Bayern. It's no disrespect to them but you'd rather meet either French side in the last four than a Barca or Inter. From a distance and bar any disaster between now and May, it looks as if United have been handed another route to the final. We seem to have grasped the requirements of European football. I think we need to make hay while we still have that instinct in us. I mean beating AC Milan 7-2 on aggregate is something. And that we have it in us to do that, we must take advantage.
The ties will be either side of a season defining game against Chelsea at OT so that could be a factor. But if we are to make that game against Chelsea mean anything, we must first do the job against Liverpool this Sunday! The Preview to follow shortly!

Monday, 15 March 2010

DOWN TO THE FINAL EIGHT!----MAN UNITED VS FULHAM REVIEW!


It's thirty games played now in the Premier League for United and despite all the problems we've had in defence, despite losing two of our best players including the best player in the world without signing any 'media catching' replacements, we still have a chance to make history.

Eight games now separate us from becoming England's most successful club domestically as well as the first team to win the Premier League four times in a row.



Beating Fulham was very essential yesterday given that both our rivals had won their games on Saturday.We started the day in third but victory restored us into first place (albeit with a game more than Chelsea). Wayne Rooney continued his dream form with yet another brace while Berbatov managed to get a goal out of four chances. It was Good result against one of the few teams that are capable of embarrassing us even on our own patch. More satisfying was that we managed to keep a sixth straight league clean-sheet at home. It's now zero goals conceded since Rio joined Vida and EVDS in that defence. We'll definitely do something special this season if we have those two around for the rest of the season.

We've now got seven days to prepare for what should be a season defining game for us this season---Sunday lunchtime against Liverpool. The preview for that will explain why its not just Liverpool we're up against. The fixture list in more ways than one dictates that failure to win on Sunday could put paid to our title hopes.

Before then it's a case of the British media hyping the game in all sorts of ridiculous ways. A more worthy something to do in midweek is watch Chelsea vs Inter and make out our odds in Friday's Champions League quarterfinal/semifinal draw. FLOM will react to the draw seconds after it is completed.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

AND NOW FOR THE 'BOOGEY' TEAM----MAN UNITED VS FULHAM PREVIEW!


Top of the league is where we are at the moment (which is good) but we'll in all probability kick off on Sunday against Fulham in third place. Arsenal and Chelsea play a today against opposition they'll almost certainly beat (if their title challenges are anything to go by) so on a day when we officially mark the 100th birthday of Old Trafford, we must make the fixture count with a positive result. A win is surely what United ought to achieve. Anything less and we could live to regret the day. We're nine games from making major history at the club and in the country so hopefully the players keep it 'Milanic' --to coin a word from our magnificent performance on Wednesday night.

There are no new injury concerns which is good news as well so we really have to go for it come Sunday lunchtime. Fulham have always been a boogey side for us in many ways. Interestingly they have handed us our heaviest defeat this season--a 3-0 job at Craven Cottage just before the turn of the year. That's two defeats to them in two seasons out of four games. I;m confident that we can beat them at home but they are one of those teams that build confidence from your mistakes. They have the ability to defend well for 90 minutes so if we give them a sniff of the points, we might regret it.

We came off the away leg in Milan very tired according to the manager and suffered our sixth league defeat the following weekend. That will not be among the excuses this time as we played at home and have the extra day to rest. The lads will have a full week off before the next home game against Liverpool. So when you compare the schedule we had last season to what we have, you'd expect a fresh team every matchday.

Having said all that, let's not forget the milestone achievement on Sunday. I'm sure neither me nor you will live to see OT celebrate 200 years--so let's make the most of tomorrow and sing; TOGETHER NOW;
'Happy 100th Birthday OT!'

Thursday, 11 March 2010

INTO THE LAST EIGHT!---MAN UNITED VS AC MILAN REVIEW!


Well firstly, nobody could have predicted how easy it has been for United to make it to the last eight of the Champions League for the fourth successive time--not when the draws were made and we were paired with our 'bogey' team Milan.
That the 7-2 scoreline was not at all flattering goes a long way in telling how dominant United were over the two legs. More damning is the fact that United had an average of 29,higher than that of Milan at 28. That throws the age factor out of the window as far as excuses are concerned---I mean isn't it from their age and experience that they derive their strengths?

So in short, United were that good yesterday. If the played like they did against Wolves saving it for last night, then I'm fine with that.
I'd like to think that our defence is getting closer to that form of shutting out the opposition week in, week out. That's two games with our best defenders and keeper and nothing has gone past EVDS.
When all is said and done however, we really have to break down our success over Milan into individual performances. Wayne Rooney's praises have been sang by just about every British paper this morning so no need to get in that but what about Park Ji Sung. I mean this lad did exactly what Gattusso did for Milan in 2007 when they beat us--nullifying Milan's creative powers and at the same time provided wonderful link-up play for our attacks. He has, for me, graduated into that vital player that United actually miss when he is not in the team. It's good the manager has noticed his contribution over the two legs.

The rest were at their usual best but why not save some space to put this win into perspective.
We're in the quarterfinals of the Champions League and things can only get harder in that department--more on that later in the month. We still have a battle on our hands in the league. In many ways, the league is our best shot at another trophy this season. For starters, we know how to win it better than any other team. However, it is more cruel than the Champions League as we found out when we came from Italy in high spirits only to be sank by Everton the other week.
That we cannot afford to drop points in the league for the rest of the season is testament to the job we have on our hands these next few weeks. To put it simply, we must view every game as a Cup final for us now. I'd like to see the players adopt the enthusiasm they displayed in midweek in each game for just 9 more games. 9 games separate these players from making major history at the club. Whether the players are hungry enough for that is another issue, but we fans are. Before we blow this up, let me just say we are in a good position to start our decade with gold.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

'LET'S FINISH THE JOB'----MAN UNITED VS AC MILAN PREVIEW!


Sir Alex has called on his players to finish the job they started at the San Siro three weeks ago. United won in Milan for the very first time 2-3 and hence are now one foot clear in the last eight of Europe's premier club competition. Make no mistake about it, Milan still have a very good chance of making it through, especially due to that late Seedorf goal, but you have t feel that we have a very good chance. I mean you look around the other sides in England that have to overturn defeats (Chelsea and Arsenal) and you appreciate the position we are in. Our three away goals have given us the security of progressing even after a 1-0 defeat tomorrow. Surely, United can protect that at home---and I don't care about the opposition.

Having said that, United are not going out to defend. It's certainly what the Italians will expect but we are United and we play to kill! The first goal could be crucial in this one as it will either finish off Milan(if we score it) or it will give them what they will be looking for in this game(if they score it). We've got Ferdinand and Vidic plus EVDS in that defence so the errors of Milan should not be repeated. I mean its funny that we are in this position and yet Milan could have been 4-0 up in that first leg after half an hour. It really kills my mind.

Wayne Rooney is fit. He'll start. That means that we shouldn't be as toothless as we were on Saturday at Wolves. Brown is out for six weeks so Rafael gets another shot at Ronaldinho. He didn't do too well in Italy against his fellow countryman but he's relishing another battle. The first leg experience could have only improved him.
Carrick, Anderson and Giggs are not available for us. I think its the first time that we miss the trio at the same time. It might mean that Gibson could start alongside Fletcher--that is if the manager is not interested in giving Scholes another day out in quick succession.

European nights hardly disappoint at OT so here's to the fans turning up the volume. It's a chance for us to make the last eight in Europe for the fourth successive season. It's another one of those nights when we have to BELIEVE!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

PHEW!----WOLVES VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


Well fair play to the boys; we did get the three points in the end but what with all the praises I'm reading from the manager and players alike about the good football we played---I mean did I watch a different game? I thought we were not at the races in the first half and we only marginally improved in the second. How Wolves didn't come away with at least a point is still a mystery.

Thankfully for us, the one vital opportunity fell to a man whose head us as cool as a cucumber. Paul Scholes was just about the only player we had on pitch yesterday who could take our one chance in the manner he did. That Duouf and Berbatov twice failed in similar circumstances at different points in the game is testamnet to this. The Manchester United legend is now a Manchester United centurion---full marks for him!

The win was vital as far as our title interests are concerned given that Arsenal had won earlier. We now have a two point lead over our rivals with just nine games left. Only three of those games are away from home. That technically measn that the title would be won or lost at Old Trafford especiall when you put the vsits of Liverpool and Chelsea into perspective.

Antonio Valencia seems to be doing his job right. I only wish he had somebody who was more willing to get on the end of his crosses yesterday. Nani has not been helped by his suspension. He was, as has been the case often this season, poor on the left.
Berbatov really doesn't know much about playing as a lone striker. He moves so much close to the midfielders that in the end, we have virtually none upfront.
The best thing that could happen to us yesterday was the return of our back five. For the first time in 18 months, we had Ferdinad, Vidic, Brown, EVDS and Evra starting at the back. That was the same back five that started in on that famous night in Moscow. With Hargo coming back soon, we might just start to look like a first eleven United side for the first time in quite a while.

Finally, Wayne Rooney. His enthusiasm to play for his country in midweek ruled him out of the game yesterday, and now that knee injury which he should have nursed during the week could now rule him out of Milan at OT on Wednesday. The manager has demonstrated his frustration at him and I hope he understands because United at the moment need him more than England bo for a friendly. In fact, forget about England--somebody needs to remind him that UNITED>England!

Friday, 5 March 2010

CHANCE TO GO TWO POINTS CLEAR----WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


Official leadership of the Barclays Premier League has been long overdue for United this season. So often have we taken the lead courtesy of playing before our rivals that we have not fully tasted table leadership this season.
Saturday provides us with yet another opportunity of playing earlier than Chelsea so we will technically be league leaders by the end of tomorrow if we avoid defeat at Molenuix. The ideal result would obviously be a win to move us two points ahead of Chelsea. That's not least because Arsenal themselves could be level with us on points before we kickoff tomorrow. We've got four away league games left but this is not one of those we expect anything less than maximum points.

Our game tomorrow is on the back of a Carling Cup triumph so you'd expect that the mood in the camp is top notch. The manager has however delivered a bit of mixed news for us today. One Michael Owen is out for the rest of the season wit the injury he picked up in last weeks' final. It's gutting for our title aspirations this season and for the lad as well as his dream of making it to the World Cup is now shattered. The good news is that Kiko Macheda is on his way back and we've got a certain Mame Briam Diouf who has only impressed us so far in the few times he has represented United.
The even better news is that Owen Hargreaves is on his way back. After missing the best part of two years with a knee injury, the Canadian born Englishman is finally on hi way back and will feature for the reserves next week. We could really make use of a talent like him in the run in.

More pertinent to our game against Wolves tomorrow is that Rio Ferdinad is fit to start alongside Vidic. It is rather a timely return for his as Evans picked up an injury whilst on International duty. I mean what a relief that we finally get to see our first choice central defence partnership play together.
The other cause for concern is that Wayne Rooney is a doubt for the game tomorrow having playing two consecutive games on that good for nothing Wembley pitch. Sir Alex might opt to leave him out for the visit of Milan in midweek but I say play him and take him off when the game is won.
It's too risky now to leave him out of a United side in that form of his. Berbatov is however fit enough to lead the line in case the manager rests Wayne.

This is the first of five league games over the next month or so that will determine whether we'll be retaining our trophy. It's why failure tomorrow is not an option!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

POST PARTY NOTES!


The past weekend was, for me what could prove to be the most telling weekend of our season. We overcame adversity early on to claim our first trophy of the new decade---a couple of months into it. Winning the Carling Cup has, in the recent years had a positive impact on the club. I mean you look at the 2006 success and how it galvanised our club to reclaim the league the following season and win the Champions League the year after that. Last season, the Carling Cup, alongside the Club World Cup gave our players the momentum to go on and win the league a third time in a row and reach the final of the European Cup for the second straight season.
One can only hope that something of the sort is in store for us come May. I've always stressed the importance of introducing new players to the winning culture.
We've got Michael Owen, Mame Briam Diouf, Valencia and Obertan who need that feeling of success to be part of them. The only way that can be done is by winning trophies. It ought to mean to them that the next time they pull on the shirt, its one hundred percent commitment and trophies at the end of the day.

Whilst we were adding yet another accolade to our trophy cabinet, our title rivals Chelsea were squandering their four point advantage over us. Never has it been so wonderful to see the Bitters win. Chelsea have deliberately failed to capitalise on our mistakes this season. It gets me wondering how many points clear we would be if we didn't have the injury crisis that hit us between November and January.
Saturday now provides us with the another opportunity to pile more pressure on Chelsea. They are not in action due to their involvement in the FA Cup so we can go two points clear before they kick a ball in the league again. It's a chance we really can't afford to get past us. I hope the lads get the celebrations out of their system quick enough to prepare for a tough trip at Molenuix.

Meanwhile, it's fingers crossed that none of our lads picks up a knock on International duty. We've already suffered enough without John O'Shea.

Monday, 1 March 2010

AND NOW FOR THE LEAGUE-----THE CARLING CUP FINAL REVIEW!


A small bit of history was made yesterday---Man United retained a Cup for the first time in their history. It's not easy to set records at this club because we've achieved pretty much everything so well done to the lads for writing a unique piece of history for the club.



We beat Villa in the Carling Cup final yesterday----much as they yhave been a headache for us this year, failure was not really an option. It's not that we need the Carling Cup that bad but we should do everything in our power to deny the press what they want---to see United on their way down after selling some of their best players in the past summer. It was also about getting the winniing mentality in the squad as we reach the part of the camapaign where the trophies are given out. I mean it really does a lot for the likes of Mame Briam Diouf to lift a trophy just a couple of months into his United career. They ought to get the message that at this club, we win trophies at the end of the season. That at this club, you must deliver. That at this club, failure is not an option!



Not surprisingly, Wayne Rooney was the star of the show again albeit the fact that he didn't start. It had started as the Michael Owen show when the former Scouser drilled low past Friedel to cancel out Milner's early penalty. Without a doubt, all of us were ready to lash at Sir Alex for not starting Rooney--and he probably should. His decision was however vindicated by Michael Owen's equaliser. It's eight goals for Owen no and the manager has confirmed that he will still be at the club next season. His goal now stands alongside that 96th minute winner against City. Unfortunately for the lad (and in a way fortunately for us fans) he injured himself so Wayne Rooney had to come on much earlier than Sir Alex would have wanted. In a way we fans felt that we were now at full strength.
From then on it was a case of when not if. Park hit the post and Carrick forced a brilliant save from Friedel before Rooney settled the final with a sublime header that comprehensively beat the giant American goalie.

Speaking of goalies, I thought Tomas K. did a job in between the sticks. He really does seem to be more confident than Ben Foster. But for the penalty, he was a good bet to keep a clean sheet. Park did well in the middle but he should have buried the chance that Berbatov put on a plate for him. Valencia once again came up with an assist for Rooney. The formula seems to be Berba to Valencia and finally to Rooney. That's three goals in a week that the trio have produced in that order (and all of them came from the head of Rooney). It has to be said that the lad has added a vital asset to his all round play. It's a great asset to have a player who can head the ball that well. That's seven headed goals in his last eight games! Long may that continue!

APPORTIONING THE BLAME:
Nemanja Vidic could have handled Angbonlahor better. There is nothing he doesn't know about the lad's speed so pulling his shirt in the box could have been more damaging for us than it was. Some refs could have shown him red as early as the fourth minute!
Besides a few hiccups here and there from the players, the rest was quite fine.

We've already bagged a trophy so now the players know the fruits of triumph. We're a point off the top of the league with a blockbuster five games coming up. Collecting fifteen points from those will go a long way into seeing us make more history! It's worth cherishing wining the Carling Cup but I really hope that the lads postpone the celebrations for May!
ON WARDS and UPWARDS!