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!