Sunday, 28 November 2010

7-1!


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

WIGAN NOTES AND A LOOK AHEAD TO RANGERS


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

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

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

Friday, 19 November 2010

HOME SWEET HOME!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 14 November 2010

NOT GOOD ENOUGH!


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

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

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

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

Saturday, 13 November 2010

THE NEED TO WIN!


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 11 November 2010

AS STALE AS IT COULD GET!


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

AND NOW FOR THE DERBY!


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

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

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

Sunday, 7 November 2010

PHEW!


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

PERFECT!


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

TURKEY ON TONIGHT'S MENU!


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

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

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

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