Friday, 28 December 2012

UNITED KEEP UP HOLLYWOOD SHOW OVER THE FESTIVITIES

Right from the start of the season, people have been going on about how Manchester United are yet to play their best football this season. If I remember quite well, the same was said about United THROUGHOUT last season till the final game of the season. You then wonder if United have out their best football away in the drawer and chosen to turn up for a couple of seasons below par.

I personally don't buy into it. I think United are currently playing to their abilities (as shocking as they are). For starters, many will tell you that great teams are built around a great back four and consistent goalkeeper. At United we don't have that. It is therefore not rocket science that United are letting in as many goals as they are at the moment. It doesn't matter how many times Fergie, Ferdinand, or Evans talks to the press about it; if we do not come to terms with a first choice back five that is only tweaked in the event of injuries, then we're as good as merely five players standing in front of our goal.

The part you have to credit United for though is the attack. I mean, even our defenders (Evra, Rafael and Evans) have found it meaningless to sit at the back and attempt the 'impossible' job of defending. They've thrown themselves in the box and at the ball more often than they've been doing cue the flood of goals that have enabled us top of the league.
Technically we can still be undone by goal-difference since we still win games by the odd goal but you'd think that we'll be safe if we score more than we can concede.

We take on West Brom in the league at home tomorrow in what should be another must win game, if only for the fact that its a home game. With a tricky fixture coming up this Tuesday away to Wigan, we should put ourselves in the best possible position to head into that without any pressure.
The 7 point gap we hold at the moment shouldn't blind the players of how quickly things can change in this league and so one hopes they go about their job less of complacency.

As far as players go, I'd like to see Kagawa back in the team now as its really been long and I feel we need to put his talents to best use early enough before we get into Europe again. I feel he's suited to the European game more than any other player we have and can therefore work best behind RVP as the perfect foil.

In the meantime, ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!




Monday, 17 December 2012

ANOTHER THREE GOALS, THREE POINTS!

Going into the weekend fixture, the worry was that United would ease off and let complacency get the better of them after the highs of the week before. Thankfully the players were well on the task and a blissful 60 minutes saw us build a comfortable lead that insulated us from the extreme nerves that come with our inability to keep a clean sheet.

The biggest highlight of the match was undoubtedly the return of El Capitano Senior Nemanja Vidic, but I would say that the most crucial bit of the game was the realisation that perhaps Carrick and Cleverley might just be the best midfield combinaton we've got at the club.They were as brilliant and efficient as they were against City last Sunday. It spoke volumes that the swagger we started with disappeared when the old guard Giggs and Scholes came on. One hopes that the manager gives Clev time in the side to stake his claim alongside Carrick.

My only disappointment on the night was the humanity and empathy that is creeping in Valencia's game. What happened to the ruthless beast that never cared if we were thrashing people for dead and still whipped in those balls? The one we have now will merely run to the corner flag or the edge of the box and stop. Snap out of it Tony, get the ball in!

Three points preserved our lead going into Christmas but we've got a couple of banana skins in there to negotiate our way into the New Year. The manager hopes that we can get to January still on top, but I do hope we get there with at least our 6 point gap intact. The reality is, we shall struggle to compete with City in Feb if we are as close to them as we were last year as we're involved in Europe. A comfortable lead will only serve to keep the players confident of their ability to challenge on both fronts.

Its a long break till Swansea away, but before then is a small matter of the Champions League draw. Anyone that we shall get will give us a game, given the opponents on offer, but there is still a couple of names that you'd rather face in a semi or final.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Monday, 10 December 2012

BLOOD, TEARS, JOY IN THE DERBY!





Remember all that stuff you've read from Internet blogs, (including here) and heard on podcasts about how United had to do something about their defence before they come up against someone they can't outscore? Well that 'someone' as far as the domestic league is concerned was supposed to be Manchester City, not least because of that game that we do not talk about.

It has come to pass though that United's deadly attack can outscore City as well. Our screaming neighbours are the latest opponents this season to be on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline. This time though, there will be no apportioning of the blame as both of City's goals were as a result of the overwhelming quality in and around the penalty area. I mean if you are David De Gea, and you've made two brilliant stops, you'd hope that lady luck makes Toure shoot wide or that it fell to someone that would balloon it to the stands. For Zabaleta's goal, only once is ten attempts can such a shot go through a mile of bodies untouched and still find the only unguarded corner of the net.

Credit to Sir Alex for going for it at City this time. You now wonder what might have been had we gone for it against them in that decider at the Etihad last season. Perhaps it is a pointer to Sir Alex that even against the best of the lot, we are better off playing to our strength rather than trying to frustrate the opposition.

I thought Ashley Young finally came into his own on the day. He was as helpful as possible to the attackers and was incredibly unlucky to have his goal ruled out for offside. Evra's usual forward bursts ensured that the left wing, as well as the right wing were a menace to City who would rather have the ball in the middle of the park.
Sir Alex did troll the media though by ruling out Valencia. If Mancini took his word for it, I doubt he had prepared enough to curb the Eucuadorian's threat. My only criticism of TonyV is that he is making it a habit to stop and second guess the defender instead of sticking to the basics of whipping that ball in at every opportunity. It would serve him well to know that Beckham hardly tried to beat his marker before putting in a cross. He simply bent it in at every opening he got.

Finally Robin van Persie. Here is a player who is at the peak of his powers and can do no wrong at the moment. Increasingly, it appears that his signing was the tipping point of the 'balance of power' in Manchester again. It's not because of his 92nd minute winning free-kick yesterday but that he has stepped up to fire United past each of their title rivals this season. Wayne Rooney does have his fair bit of influence in big games, but Robin has consistently done it against the big boys for us this season by scoring in wins at Anfield, Stamford Bridge against Arsenal and now at the Etihad. That the last time we won at all three hostile venues was in 1913-14 season is telling of the impact that the Dutchman has had at United. Long may it continue.

A six point lead at the top of the EPL in December is something not even the most optimistic United fans had envisaged at full time at Goodison Park on that Monday night. We've fought our way to the best possible position to win our trophy back and now its up to the players to show that same heart and desire against the lesser teams in the league regardless of our records against them. Last season we fell into the trap of going to Wigan with an 8 point lead and a mindset of a default victory. Hopefully this time we kick on and try to give ourselves the best possible chance to win the league come May next year.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!

Cheers!





Monday, 3 December 2012

MADNESS! SIMPLY MADNESS!

So one thing that is for certain is that Manchester United cannot defend.

If Spain have invented the 4-6-0, then I think its only fair to say that United are close to patenting the 0-2-8. I mean what other explanation can you fathom for a team that just can't stop conceding and scoring in equal measure?



Displays like the one we saw at the MAD-jeski the other night beg a few questions. What sort of defensive training does United do at the training ground? How about they spend a week with Ashley Young whipping in crosses in the box and asking defenders to deal with it with pressure from RVP and Wayne or CH14? Wouldn't that make us better? Can they not figure out a way of defending corners without having to stand in front of the goalkeeper, effectively taking him out of the game?

The damning part is that the manager and indeed the players themselves have since post match Fulham at home, been banging on about how we need to sort out our defence, how we must avoid letting teams have a goals start, etc, but nothing has changed since. The same lines were uttered to the press after the Reading game but this time the boss cared to add that he'd play himself against City (God knows how many we would ship in if he stays true to his joke).

It all makes for fascinating build up to the Manchester Derby next Sunday. Journalists, fans and indeed neutrals cannot wait to see how a very poor defence and a very potent attack fare against City's organised defence but out of sorts attack.

At the end of the day, a three point cushion at the top is just about as much as we could hope for going into this fixture. It offers gigantic rewards in the event of a win but also offers a consolation in the event of a defeat. United and City have kept in close proximity of each other right from last season but at this rate of defensive errors on our part, we could do with a 6 point cushion to allow us breathe a little easier.

Before then though is a small matter of CFR Cluj in the Champions League. Nobody cares about the result at all but I do hope that we don't lose simply because we're home....and it sucks to lose at home.

Till then Cheers!


ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!