Monday, 30 September 2013
The following conversation takes place between 8pm and 9pm on the way home from Old Trafford after the match between Manchester United and West Brom.
ACT ONE, SCENE I
Craig: What did you make of that Dave?
David: To be honest I'm fast running out of words to define the mood after defeats this season. Normally such results are spread out in the season, so if I was gutted last week after the derby, does English have a word for what I'm feeling now? Doubt it. Do you?
Craig: Don't. Just checked out the result from Villa Park and City has lost as well. I suddenly now feel a lot worse. You'd like to think that these games coming up are a perfect chance for us to close the gap between us and the pace-setters, so to let these points slip is really rock-bottom. It's difficult to imagine that it could get any worse than this. But again, I thought the same at the Shittyhad last week and yet here we are.
David: Obviously the first instinct is to blame the manager and all. Poor ol'Dave will get a good lam-blasting this week, but I also kind of thought that there were not too many players fighting for the shirt yesterday.
West Brom's only attacking plan was to use the counter-attack and so you thought it was simple enough for our midfield and defence to work out a means to halt their outlets. The manner in which they were afforded the freedom of Old Trafford to get to our goalkeeper with ease was embarrassing. It leaves Moyes with a couple of tough calls to make coz Rio's pace got shown up today.
Craig: Yeah, it really needs a lot of sorting out. I mean you can argue that our failure to take chances in open play has cost us in the forward department as well. The numbers really make for gross reading. 7 points in 6 games is, by our standards, embarrassing. You only thank the heavens that our furthest rival is just the 4 points ahead of us, but its the top we have to aim for, and at the moment we're nearly 3 games off the top.
David: Bad weekend mate; Are we on for Shaktar
Craig: Sure, at the usual. Can't really take another defeat so soon so I really hope the Bayer Leverkusen United turn up.
David: To think how our season would go if the Swansea United turned up for EPL games and the Bayer United turned up for European games....but oh well. Cheers mate.
Craig: Cheers Dave.
Make of that what you will, but that is as far as I shall go into the game's talking points. The other disappointing thing about the weekend was the manager offering his thoughts on whether the team could win the Champions League this season. Now we all know that Manchester United in their current state do not have a prayer against the other elite of Europe. However, such is the sensitivity of the boss' comments that he needn't have written off the team's European chances publicly. This from a manager who claimed all summer that he was happy with his squad. It really is a massive own-goal for Moyes. He needs to learn a thing or two about PR at a club the size of Manchester United.
He does still merit backing because he is the manager of Manchester United but I'd like that he sorts it all out sooner rather than later because its hard to know where we go from here as a club. This is new territory.
Friday, 27 September 2013
That run of fixtures means that our title hopes this season rest squarely on how well we do between now and Christmas. Our failure to beat the big sides mean that we can't afford to lose the silly points we did last season. Last season, we weren't really hurt by defeats at places like Norwich and Everton because we got the job done at places like Anfield the Etihad and Stamford Bridge.
We've got an away trip in the Champions League in midweek so you really hope that the manager makes maximum but effective use of his squad to get the result and put us in shape for another tough game in Europe.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Thursday, 26 September 2013
Beating Liverpool at home, albeit in the League Cup, means that we can chin up again as they came at us with their best possible side whilst we gave a game to a few squad players. In truth, I could care less of how well we do in the League Cup but last night was one of those games where the result was more important than the competition. You really hope that the side could use that result as a spring board to pick the 35 winnable points available to us in the league over the next 2 and half months or so.
The biggest concern on the night for me was not how we afforded Liverpool all the space in the world that they needed in the middle but how well David Moyes knows the team. It appears that every other interview that he gives is accompanied by testament of how he is still getting to know the players. The question is has David Moyes ever watched United before? Surely even in his Everton days he would study a lot of our players when we are going to play them so as to find out a way to neutralise them. Is there really a top manager in world football who has no idea of the nature of play on Internationals such as Shinji Kagawa or Javier Hernandez? Even so, after 3 odd months in charge of the team, you'd think that he has an idea of how good they are or at least how they play. The point is, it is understandable not to know how to use Bebe or some random new signing, but it is a little lazy not to know the same about the former 2 players.
Point is, you don't have to be a Manchester United manager to know at least how to use players like Kagawa and Hernandez simply because such players are on TV every other weekend.
Anyhow, its West Brom next up in the league on Saturday at 3 o'clock. Fans should be pleased about the first 3 o'clock of the season at Old Trafford. The players and the manager have a job to do now. We've got to start moving up the table, and fast!
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Perhaps a reminder of a few such days is best illustration of how they hurt at the time: The 0-5 loss to Newcastle back in the '96/97 season, the 1-4 reverse at the Riverside back in '04/05, then the even more hurtful ones; the 4-1 defeat by the Dippers in 2009, and the 6-1 more recently against the Bitters.
Its fair to say that Sunday falls in line with the above selection of matches. However, it is disappointing when you look back and think that the side could have done something about the manner of the defeat. For starters, all the goals let in on Sunday were squarely down to people not doing their jobs of following their men whilst defending counter-attacks--Valencia and Fellaini being the biggest culprits. It is frustrating when you consider that the reason Sir Alex and Moyes have seen it right to include Valencia ahead of Nani is because the former can ably put in a shift defensively as well as offer an attacking threat.
Anyhow, that result effectively means that we've gotten off to a poor start. We're 5 off the top and three off our main rivals but you have to think that the only way we can make a fight for this title is to pick up a lion's share of the next 35 points available. You'd like to think that we should be able to win the games between now and the end of December. It is the upside of the fixture list that Moyes should exploit since he has not fared well enough against our direct rivals.
Next up is Liverpool in the Carling Cup and whereas we would normally not care the result of this one, it is a perfect opportunity to restore some pride by getting the result at home against them. We have plenty of capable players who have not played a lot since the start of the season so you hope that the manager gives a couple a game.
It's hard to imagine that the lads will put on as poor a show on Wednesday as they did on Sunday but if they did, a lot of them will have to take a long hard look at themselves because as Jimmy Murphy once put it ''Football is a simple game. You win the ball, you pass the ball, you score a goal.''
Friday, 20 September 2013
However, it is hard to judge this time round which side is worse off and needs the points in Sunday's blockbuster. United and City are both locked at 7 points after 4 games so its statistically hard to say which side has had the more difficult start to the season.
However, given the nature of opposition that United have had at the start of the season, their points haul is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. I personally thought that 10 points from our opening 5 games would be a good return given our fixture schedule. As it stands, we are three points off that target so a win o Sunday will have United where they could have hopped to be when the fixtures were released.
David Moyes will be judged, among other things, on results against his direct rivals. He's already failed to get the win at against Liverpool and Chelsea and now has a third opportunity to make his mark against a side whom he has a fantastic record against. Thankfully that great record is against the side his new club like to beat as often as they meet them.
What many United fans will hope for though is the kind of performance that the lads put out on Tuesday against Bayer Leverkusen. City look a different side with Kompany so our forwards need to be sharper than they were at Anfield. It will be interesting who of the colossal figures of Fellaini and Yaya Toure wins the midfield battle. It is the test many will wait for our Belgian to pass before they pass judgement on him.
David Moyes has so far done just about enough to keep the criticism as low as possible. A result on Sunday will go a long way to ensure that he wins over yet another bunch of fans and critics.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Thursday, 19 September 2013
What a way! What a way for Manchester United and David Moyes to open their European campaign this year. The vultures had expectantly circled over Old Trafford all day anticipating a horror show from David Moyes in his first big night out in Europe. That the set out a class team that magnificently advertised Manchester United's traditions and qualities of counter-attacking football rightly justifies all the credit that he got on the night.
For the first time, we really got to see what our best team can do when out on duty. Marouanne Fellani and Michael Carrick make our midfield a force to be reckoned with. The manager takes full credit for that. Robin and Wayne know how to play off each other and switch positions to the detriment of the opposition while it adds to the difficulty for opponents that we also have a certain Shinji Kagawa on the inside left to deal with.
Make no mistake, Bayer Leverkusen are currently Germany's third strongest side so in an era of supposed German dominance of the Champions league, 4-2 was a remarkable result.
Wayne Rooney got his 200th goal for the club, but given the indifference that this blogger has towards Wayne, it is as far as I shall go on that topic. That is not take anything away from Wayne's achievement as it is no mean feat.
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Anyhow, Palace have proved that they can be a tough nut to crack if the evidence of their two games against Spurs and United is anything to go by. That both teams needed set pieces to score against them tells a story of its own. The most impotrant thing on Saturday though was the three point as we were smarting from a defeat. That we are now level on points with our title rivals Chelsea and City doesn't tell of a bad start given the circumstances the fixture list imposed on us. The trouble though is that next up is a trip to the Bitters. It's odd that we have a good record there recently but we need a result from there, just to give ourselves that extra confidence.
Before that though is the small matter of the return of the Champions League. Bayer Leverkusen are the visitors to Old Trafford tonight. The last time we faced off with them was rather a heartache for you feel we would have given Real Madrid tougher opposition in that Champions League final.
Sami Hypia (remember him?) manages them but being a Bundesliga side and given that now the Champions League is now dominated by that league, then we do have a game on our hands tonight. The groups is a giant banana skin for us so you really hope that we can win our home games, starting tonight.
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
The International break poses all sorts of dilemmas for club coaches, but perhaps the biggest fear shall be whether your players return fit on Wednesday morning.
With a host of players already retired, United can expect to have a very experienced set of players available for a must win second home game of the season.
Rio, Vida, Giggs, might start ahead of the rest because of the extra break they've had compared to the likes of Valencia and Chicharito that might not make it to Carrington till Friday.
It goes without saying that given our very tough fixture list at the start of the season, Crystal Palace at home was always going to be that game that we must win if only just to keep one or two convinced that we shall fight for this title this season. The permutations are quite simply that anything other than a United result will psychologically and perhaps effectively render us also runs in the EPL title fight this year.
The manager has one or two tactical headaches to work out and I hope that he has spent the break finding that solution. For starters, we cannot have Giggs starting every match when the likes of Kagawa cannot get a look in. The other issue will be how to play Welbeck and Rooney in the same line up. Further back, it will be interesting to see the role played by Fellaini on his home debut. It was never going to be difficult to win the midfield battle against Palace but arm chair viewers will be looking for that bit of difference and hopefully it will manifest.
It is a lunchtime kickoff on Saturday but we can't complain much as we need more time and preparation for the Champions League that starts next week. That particular bit of business will lead to the Manchester derby on Sunday so whichever way you look at it, it is a big week for David Moyes and perhaps another opportunity for him to restore some of the pride he lost at Anfield last time out.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Friday, 6 September 2013
The last time I blogged, Manchester United was not in as much a 'mess' as it is right now. The club has suffered a thorough beating from the media and fans alike so much so that it could do without me adding salt to very painful wounds.
Granted, United could have handled deadline day better because it makes no sense to start negotiating with the Basque Athletic Bilbao on deadline day. Deadline day is hardly made for calling bluffs as it is the bidder rather than the seller that will suffer the bigger loss. The club has since denied a relation with the 3 wise impostors that turned up at LFP offices to allegedly tie up a deal for Ander Herrera.
Secondly, turning down players like Mesut Ozil is close to criminal in an age where world class players are hard to come by.
All the above notwithstanding, it must be noted, and crucially so that United did in fact manage to make a signing on deadline day. Marouane Fellaini is not the type of player that will set the blood boiling among fans at Old Trafford but it can be strongly argued that he was the one player that we needed.
Think about it; he is in essence a box to box midfielder whose best position is defensive midfield. He is also an option in attack when chasing the game in the same way Yaya Toure is for disgraceful our neighbours. Whereas we could have done with another creative player, if we have Fellaini doing the dirty work in front of the defence, you'd like to think that it should free Carrick, Rooney and Kagawa to create and or score goals. Did I mention that it is virtually impossible to defend against Fellaini?
To put it simple, the question that should be answered is are we better off with the Belgian than without him?...your guess is as good as mine.
Some would like us to believe that Fellaini is not United class/material and his play will be difficult to integrate in the team. That is only a problem if he is changing leagues and manager that have made him an international in a competitive Belgian side. As it stands, he remains in the EPL and is back to working under a manager that knows his qualities and how to best apply them to the benefit of the team.
Defeat at Anfield has left us playing catch up already. Obviously it is not yet alarm bells time but we now need to get the three against Palace after the world cup break and find away of not leaving the Etihad empty handed. We do have a good record there, so why not?