Tuesday, 29 March 2011

AHEAD OF A TASTY APRIL!


I say tasty but with 7 games coming up---all of which determine whether we end the season with one of three are all three trophies still available, its hardly a month in which most of us will have anything like fingernails at the end of it all. 80 percent of the Treble could be won in April if we win all 7 games or at least come out of the month whilst still chasing three trophies. That's essentially because by the turn of May, we'll be talking about a couple of games or so left in the league, a Champions League semifinal and final and an FA Cup final as the only remaining fixtures of the season. If ever there was a month to get into that fifth gear therefore, its April. Most of our players are free from International action in the summer so why not break a leg and spend the summer nursing sweet injuries? The defensive crisis has not helped matters and the manger has pointed out that it could hinder our treble bid. Hopefully the International break has done us good in the sense that a few players should be on their way back from injury. I certainly look forward to seeing Vidic, Park and Ferdinand in the side. Hargreaves is unlucky is reports are to be believed that he's now got a shoulder injury. I hoped that he'd play against West Ham. The game at Upton Park on Saturday lunchtime kicks off the final third of the season and it gives us a chance to head into the run in by applying immediate pressure to arrivals for a response. We've already lost 4-0 at Upton Park this season with a decent side so I guess the lads need no reminder of what is in store for them. Given our away form and West Ham's ability to get stuck in when the big boys are in town, it could prove to be a much more difficult afternoon than we expect. One therefore hopes that Fergies doesn't hold anything back in the name of resting a few players for Chelsea in midweek. I've already blogged that I think we should use the league as a priority this term and everything else as a bonus. We have a few winnable games coming up in the league and if we do win them, we might just land the league with a couple of games spare. Forget '99, working without pressure can make you perform better in games. That said, this is United we're talking about...the hard way, for them, is the only way.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

MANCHESTER UNITED IN PERSPECTIVE


The international break provides us with one last time to breathe and look at what we've got so far and how we can turn May 2011 into another memorable month for Manchester United.


At the start of the season, given the predictions the media was throwing about (Chelsea and City to finish above United) and given the relative inactivity in the transfer market (Smalling, Bebe and Chicharito hardly raised dust), we've done well to still be in the race for a treble!

1. I'd like us to prioritise the league as the number one target. Anything we win besides the league should be treated us a bonus.
2. We're a little short of defenders at the moment so hopefully by the dawn of next month after the break, we shall be a little more healthy in that department. It's funny that its two consecutive seasons now that we've had a defensive injury crisis. Hopefully it won't wreck our season like it did last time.
3. It's 7 games in April and all are must wins. A tough ask for any team and most would chose what they win or lose at this stage. But Manchester United being Manchester United, we usually have a problem with choosing and hence chose all. But if it goes down to bare bones, the league s what I'd prefer. Having said that it would be painful to see City and Chelsea get past us so we could do with wins against both.

Onwards and Upwards!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

SERIOUSLY THIS AINT GOOD FOR MY HEART!


Just when it looked like we were going to blow the another chance to take a threshold of the title, Dimitar Berbatov pounced and reminded us of the fact that this is his season.

The Bulgarian has now scored 20 league goals for us this term but this could be the one that eventually sees us claim number 19. Many have criticised him for not banging them in when it matters most but so far, his third against Liverpool at OT, the winner at Blackpool and the one he got yesterday means that he can account for at least nine crucial points that he's won us.

Let's face it United were poor yesterday largely because of European duty in midweek and also the number of changes we've had to make given the injury situation. I doubt the absence of the manager form the dugout had anything to do with it but thankfully in the end we got what we wanted. The fans were aware of Arsenal's struggles at the Hawthorns so you can imagine the nausea when Evans was sent off. A point under the circumstances would have been good but we couldn't pass on an opportunity to create more daylight between us and our main title rivals.

It was good to get Nani and Valencia back in the same team but credit to Nani who kept trying to shoot from range as that is just about the only way to break down teams that defend deep. I mean you hope for a deflection or a lucky break like the one we got yesterday.

Evan's red card essentially means that we now have just the three recognised defenders so the International break couldn't have come any sooner. I hope we get a good chunk of the lads back after the break.

The Champions League draw on Friday paired us with Chelsea with the second leg at OT. Personally, couldn't have asked for a better draw because of the injustice we've suffered at their hands lately. It's an opportunity to settle the score.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

TREBLE TALK AMIDST INJURY CRISIS!


The one think I dearly prayed for at the start of the season was an injury free campaign. Well not entirely injury free because that's largely unrealistic but surely we couldn't suffer the same the same injury crisis we did last term especially in defence that saw the likes of Carrick and Fletcher make numerous appearances in central midfield. It was pathetic and rather absurd that we lost up to 7 defenders to injury at the same time and one wonders what we could have achieved if we were at least afforded the services of at least one of our regular centre backs.

Roll on to this season and just a few months ago, as Sir Alex pointed out in his pre-Bolton press conference, we had all our defenders fit and it did hold us in good stead to go on and have a comfortable run in, but behold we now head into the run in with all but one of our regular defenders missing through injury. At least this time we can still say that so far we're not yet to the point of playing midfielders in defence but who know with the kind of luck we're getting.
Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, O'Shea, and Evans are currently out leaving us with Fabio, Brown and Smalling to patch in without any natural replacements.

When you're heading into a run in like the kind United are usually involved in every March and April, you hope that you can have all your players fit because of the demands that come with playing twice weekly. It means the manager can rotate to keep the squad fresh---just as he did effectively en route to the Treble. Last season we lost Rooney at this stage of the campaign and we were already without EVDS and Rio. In the end that crisis cost us at least the league title.

This season United are in a the hunt for the club's second Treble and given the inactivity of the club in the transfer market, you hope that at least if you have all your players fit then you stand a chance. We have a fight on our hands to win the league and we play City in the FA Cup semis. The Champions League draw for the last eight of the competition is soon to be made so that means the last thing we need is our fringe players contesting in the big games of the season for honours because in many ways it sells us short.
Neither does it help that our manager has been slapped a 5 match ban by the FA (cunts).

On the plus side, we seem to be doing well further up the pitch, Anderson could be back nay time soon and Hargreaves has started training again with the first team. It's mighty good to see Valencia back as well. Javier Hernandez has done a good job of keeping Berbatov on the bench by making it 16 goals in his debut campaign, two of which are the reason as to why United made it to the final eight of Europe's premier club competition earlier this week.

What's for certain though is that we need some sort of heroics from our fringe defence if we are to keep the Treble dream alive. The League remains the primary target so the game against Bolton on Saturday is a must win--I mean it's been long since we won a league game. Thank heavens that the upcoming International break will give Sir Alex some time to get more players back into the team.

Marching on!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

...AND THE REDS GO MATCHING ON! ON! ON!


What a win! What a team selection! What a performance!



You've got to hand it to United this season. I mean at home, they've been nothing short of brilliant regardless of the opposition--certainly in most of the games and that, it has to be said, has gone a long way in patching up our weaknesses away from home. That means that the Champions League tie in midweek against Marseilles bodes well.

Today however was all about striking a psychological blow on our opponents. Arsenal are not on one of those teams that can handle the mental blow of losing three Cup competitions in a fortnight so you'd think that as far as the title race is concerned, we might just have put them in their place.

We've come form three away games to three home games so hopefully we keep making them count.
The FA Cup is now seemingly a big possibility for us this year and I'd love that we win it because most of our lads don't have a medal and that its been long since the most successful club lifted it. We're the outright favourites now to win it so hopefully we finally bury the memories of 2005 and 2007!

Full marks go to EVDS, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez for putting up such a show that subdued our title rivals. Well done everyone!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

AFTER THE STORM....


Well technically it should be calm after the storm, especially the kind of storm that Manchester United are in right now. The question is are we past it anyway?

Three defeats in a month for a team that was quietly going on about finishing an entire season unbeaten should be some sort of crisis right? Well at least the media think so. Personally I'll quickly forget the events of the past month if we can kick on from where we are an keep posting points on board for the remaining few games to see us just over the finish line still in first place.

The only worrying thing for the past month--besides the standard of officiating has been the inability of United to call on their 'unbeatable spirit' that we've seen in the earlier stages of the campaign---I mean before the game at Wolves, there were games before in which we had played poorly but still stole a point from the game. A case in point is Sunderland. Granted, we should have come away from Stamford Bridge with at least a point---but again we played well enough to take all three! We should have put away one of the many chances that we had to make it 0-2!
The Anfield game was however a horror show. I mean we moan about how Carragher should have been sent off and all but that Liverpool team could easily have battered us with 10 men---besides, they were already 2-0 up at the time. We simply lacked the passion and desire to play at the required standard and with the right enthusiasm---I mean its was a derby for crying out loud so you do wonder when all the fire in the belly died out. We can have few complaints in that regard.

I'd like to see United play with the sort of determination and hunger that defines our club. For a moment at Anfiled, our players looked like they had been fed up of success and hence wouldn't be arsed about getting themselves whipped at Anfield. That Suarez was allowed to dance his way in the box tells the story of footballers that were not willing to get their shirts dirty.
I really hope we can get stuck in for the last 9 games or so of the season.
The two week break in the league couldn't have come sooner enough for us. I really hope that we'll be back on a roll after the International break.

All our remaining games are winnable but if we play with a desire to get back in the dressing room clean then I must add that all our remaining games are potentially banana skins. Besides the Arsenal and Chelsea games, you hope that the remaining games--including trips to West Ham and Newcastle---not to mention Blackburn should be winnable games not least because we cannot afford at this stage to relinquish the leadership of the league. I'm thinking we keep it while we still got it. Giving away our lead will leave us in a position of dire agony that we found ourselves in last season when we simply ran out of games to patch up the distance between us and Chelsea.

Before all that however, and in the form of a curtain raiser in the battle for the championship to come, United entertain Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday with the winner booking a place in the semifinal at Wembley. Arsenal are smarting from Champions League elimination at the hands of Barcelona whilst we could do with a win ourselves given what we've been through. The result could certainly carry a psychological impact for both winner and loser so I think its imperative that we draw first blood. Knocking Le Arse out of the Cup could be what could make our title run in that much easier as they might not recover from being eliminated from three competitions in the space of 14 days.

Right now we don't have Nani at the time Valencia is returning (we can't get a break at the moment) and one wonders if Park is ready for this is the sort game he thrives on. Ultimately though we may have to make do with Fletcher and Giggs on the wings for Saturday as Valencia is unlikely to start or be named in the team.

Here's to Calm after the storm!