Monday, 30 January 2012

POST LIVERPOOL NOTES!

Manchester United suffered yet another Cup exit, this time at the hands of the bin Dippers at Anfield.

Well first of all, I thought we did well enough on the day to win. It's not often that United dominate the midfield of such a big game but we did.

The issue I have with the performance though is that we failed to trouble Reina enough. We were a bit short in the final third.

Now whilst De Gea will take a large chunk of the blame for the opening goal, none of our defenders managed to get off the ground with Agger, which in my opinion is as much culpable.
I also thought that De Gea could have dealt with Kuyt's winner because, let's be honest, it wasn't in the corner. If he had spread himself , he could have probably got a hand on it. Then the fact that he went for the save with is feet was also a tad worrying.

It's always gutting to lose at Anfield and it was more gutting that after getting past more difficult opponents in the third round, we failed to get past a Liverpool team that didn't play well on the day.

That leaves us with the Europa League and the League for glory this season, so I hope with the returning players and the relatively less congested fixture list, we shall give the title a real go, besides, it has always been priority for me.

We've got Stoke at home in the league tomorrow, so here's to three points and a return to winning ways.



Tuesday, 24 January 2012

POST LE ARSE QUIKIE!

Manchester United recovered from the shock of seeing City go 6 points clear in the most cruel fashion to record an important 2-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates.

Okay; This blog is not one to gone on about the praises of heroes on the day because the media and fans alike have already done that. I usually save my space to point out one or tow things that I think are being overlooked.

Firstly, as far as the goalkeepers go, it's a case of choose who and forgo what. De Gea is by far better than Lindegaard when it comes to ball distribution but the Dane can argue that he's better than the Spaniard when it comes to catching balls even amidst a crowd of players. Okay, the Dane has not caught one or two in his time but he is marginally better.
Given the rigours of the EPL and the little or no protection keepers get from the man in the middle, Lindegaard is the less risky option.

Chris Smalling is now the next best thing we have to Vidic. It's fair to argue now that the young Englishman is ahead of Rio in the pecking order.
Paul Scholes was worth the gamble. It went unnoticed at the weekend that he switched play to Valencia's wight wing that was devoid of Arsenal players and that gave the null a chance to skin Arshavin and beast his way into the box to tee up Welbeck for the winner.

The rest of the talking points have already been exhausted by Her Majesty's press.

The importance of the result at the weekend couldn't have been overstated. We've given City that much to think about over their 'FA Cup break'. But of anything, they'll now be aware that the Champions are not going to give up their crown without a fight---whether they have the temperament to see out the job remains to be seen.

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!

Monday, 16 January 2012

PAUL HELPS UNITED TO THREE POINTS

I was talking to a colleague the other day and we came to the conclusion that Paul Scholes is doing what he's doing simply for United. I don't buy the stuff of missing the game and all. I think he's seen his club in big trouble as far as the midfield is concerned and thought that he'd see them through the season as the midfield completes its morphing. I think its down to his sole love for the club.

The Ginger Prince opened the scoring on Saturday on the cusp of half-time with one of those famous late runs in the box that found him at the far post unmarked. His tackling undoubtedly remains the same but it was nice to see our midfield boast some authority with Carrick and Scholes in a sort of competition to spray as many passes as possible. Carrick, for me got that particular accolade with the pass of the game to Welbeck midway the first half. It was simply majestic.

Carrick would of course go on to get himself on the score sheet as well after Welbeck had sealed the win for us. Welbeck himself was the toast of many fans once again and it's easy to see why the manager has opted to put him ahead of Chicharito in the pecking order.

That said, Valencia was the man of the match. The Ecuadorian endured a tough start to the season but he is fast re-establishing himself in the United first team squad with a string of fine displays out on the right wing side. It's just that the lad has regained his appetite to beat his man and put that cross in the box. As such, his assists would be much more than the 5 he has if the forwards were putting away most of the chances he creates. Wayne Rooney in particular passed up an open goal in the second half---wasn't a particularly good day for him anyway.

It was nice to assert more pressure on City ahead of their game at the DW stadium tonight but more importantly because the next few fixtures will not be as easy as we found it on Saturday.

Onwards and Upwards!


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

POST DERBY NOTES!

In the end, my gut feeling came to pass. For the past five years, Manchester United have gone into every game as favourites (with the exception of last years' European Cup final). That favourites tag does put players under immense pressure to get a result lest the hell will break loose.
After THAT defeat to City at home in the league in October, our noisy neighbours suddenly found themselves huge favourites for Sunday's Cup fixture. In fact, many United fans were looking for a performance in this one, and not quite the result that seemed out of reach.
But alas, it's the FA Cup and being underdogs in this competition, in many ways, does make you 'favourites' in a twisted sense. Playing as underdogs in a huge fixture for the first time in quite a while was always going to work in United's favour---I mean, haven't we always been at our best when our backs are up against the wall?

The team News going into the derby couldn't have been more dramatic. I had ignored the Paul Scholes story earlier last week because I dismissed it as one of those from which lazy journalists sought to make quick money so I was caught dumbfounded by the news that he was on the bench.
Then the manager who is an expert at giving journalists misleading team news in his Friday press conferences, named Chris Smalling in the starting lineup again----meaning Valencia could finally play in his customary right wing spot.

Wayne Rooney rose well to send us wild within the first ten minutes and then kissed the club crest to send a message or two to City. Then Vincent Kompany got himself sent off by going in the tackle with both feet off the ground. Now, whilst the ABUs will tell you that it wasn't a red, it should be pointed out that Chris Foy acted to the letter of the law and hence cannot be faulted for not exercising his discretion.
We would go on to dominate the first half and add to our tally through a brilliant take by Welbeck and Wayne Rooney from a re-bound off his spot-kick.

The second half however told of a different story as we became slack in possession and let City force us into mistakes that they profited from. the manager was displeased about it-----calling it carelessness but I hope we somehow improve our ball retention for the remainder of the season because it has cost us possession far too easily over the last few games.
To be fair City did put up a good show in that second period but Roy Keane summed it up brilliantly when he said that you can give City all the credit you like but they're out of the Cup! Couldn't have put it any better.

It was even more pleasing to get Liverpool away in the fourth round of the Cup as that is another big one that requires no player motivation---much the same way as this game didn't need the manager to rally the players after the Newcastle defeat. Looking forward to that.

Finally congratulations to Wayne, Sir Alex and Vidic upon their FIFA honours last night.


Onwards and Upwards!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

OF THE FESTIVE PERIOD AND THE NEW YEAR SLUMBER!

Forgive the inactivity on this blog. I spent my festive season in a part of the world that is yet to fully appreciate the phenomenon that is the Internet.

The last time I blogged, United were heading into the busy Christmas period and I warned of the difficulty of playing against QPR and Fulham in tight pitches but much to our credit, the lads showed up in those games and we duly won, handsomely at that. Now, I worry about narrow pitches because United have traditionally relied on wing play as the source of their attacks. It was thence shocking to see us lose against Blackburn on our very own expansive pitch. It seemed bigger for us than it did for Blackburn who were able to combine attack and defence much better or at least more effectively than we did.

And just when we were about to write off that defeat with a blip, we allow Newcastle United to stand in our faces and claim all three points against us last night. Its not often that United lose two games on the bounce but if this team does not show the hunger and variety of play to solve problems brought by different teams, we might just lose three on the bounce given that our next stop is at the Etihad Stadium.

It would be unfair for me not to point out the catastrophic injury list that we have at the moment but I can't help but ask why our players seems to be out in numbers during the season proper. I mean, take time and think back. For the past four seasons or so, we've been with at least half a dozen players in the hospital for just about every week. The 2008 season seems to be the last time we've been at full strength for most of the season. Is it ill-luck or is there something that we don't know about our medical team?

Apparently Sir Ales feels that there is no need to panic and although many fans are disagreeing with him, I'd like to think that he's the one who is answerable to every performance after every match so if there is anyone that does anything in the best interest of Manchester United, it's him. I'll trust him, as I have always done and look out for what he has to offer post match.

When all is said and done, we're still just three points behind City. Now we'd have taken this position back in November when the five point gap seemed a mountain as City kept winning. However, I doubt we can afford to lose any more ground on them. The unfortunate thing to take in is that we've let point slip during our honey-moon time in the fixture list. January and February are particularly difficult months for us in terms of opposition. We have to go to White Hart Lane, The Emirates, Stamford Bridge and a couple of other uneasy ones. It means that we have a job on our hands to stay in touch with City who will have it slightly easy in the meantime.
The reward for staying in touch, that is if we do it, is an easier run in in March and April that could see us wipe out City's lead in the same we did over Christmas.

The Question therefore is: Can we stay in Touch?



I'm sure the performance, not the result, on Sunday will go a long way in helping u find that out.