Thursday, 30 September 2010

VIVA VIVA CHICHARITO!


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

REACTION TO BOLTON, LOOKING AHEAD TO VALENCIA.


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

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

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

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

Saturday, 25 September 2010

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 23 September 2010

NOT THAT WE EXPECTED ANY LESS!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

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


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

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

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

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

Saturday, 18 September 2010

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

STALEMATE!


Another quick-ie!

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

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

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

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

IT STARTS AT HOME!


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 12 September 2010

UNACCEPTABLE!


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 11 September 2010

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, 3 September 2010

WEEK'S NOTES


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

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

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

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

Cheers ya'll!