Friday, 31 January 2014

TO THE WILD WILD BRITANNIA

The mission remains 9 out of 9, and we're only a third of the way successful.

Manchester United travel to Stoke on Saturday looking to pile more pressure on their top 4 rivals with victory. The reward for all three points is 5th place, currently occupied by Spurs. It's testament to the competition for the last Champions league  place that the 7th place side could easily swap places with the 5th placed side. In all this though, Liverpool retain the upper hand given their impressive run of form that has seen them make camp at 4th place. It is increasingly looking like the team that finishes above the Dippers will claim the final elite place.

David Moyes does have a job of team selection now that Wayne and Robin are fit. Added to the newly signed Juan Mata, and the rested Adnan Januzaj, you do wonder if he will resist the urge to go at Stoke with full power. Imperative to note though is that a trip to the Potters remains a stern physical examination despite Mark Huhes efforts to transform them. I would therefore understand if the manager went with power and height in his selection.

We've already won at Stoke in this season's Capital One Cup so it bodes well that the players will know everything to expect. With no midweek distractions and 8 days until our next fixture, it shouldn't be too much to expect 100% from the players.

SO COME ON UNITED!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

STILL NO OOMPH BUT JOB DONE

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lamented post match that his side lacked the oomph to get on the scoresheet last night. He rather pointed out that it was a returning Robin van Persie that had the oomph on the night. Notably, it was not the team performance that caught the eye, but rather a couple of individual performances for the champions.

Manchester United have badly missed their Dutch striker, so much so that his opener after 6 minutes had the little boy screaming inside us. It was finally a relief to see United take the lead inside the first 20 minutes at home. The performances at home have been nervy and agricultural, not least because we've not been putting away chances with the ruthlessness with which we did so last term. Having the Dutchman back after 2 months ouy was always likely to improve that stat and so it proved.

The night however did belong to Juan Mata for the simple reason that it was his debut for the club. With the best pass completion rate and an assist to his name on his debut, one can conlude that it went pretty well for him. It was all a teaser though as Moyes resisted the tempetation to play all his fantastic 4 at the same time by having them replace each other. It will be entertaining to see whether that tempetation holds on Saturday at Stoke.

Ashley Young, to be fair, is consistent in whatever he does. He's good at the fall, pretty consistent with terrible performances, but also consistent with the odd piledriver here and there. To put it into perspective, all his goals for us have a striking resemblance. Now that's consistency, or at least inconsistent consistency. His goal last night though is the kind he would have to notch up more regularly to keep his place at the club.

From a personal point of view, the biggest stat of the night was a win. Liverpool have shown a great deal of consistency lately and that means we shall have to match that as we bid to challenge them for the top 4. I blogged in the preview that for starters, we needed 9 out of our next 9. So far, 3 of those are in the bag. It's got to be the name of the game from now on.

Monday, 27 January 2014

SEEKING THE 128TH KICKSTART FOR OUR SEASON

For the uptenth time this season, Manchester United head into a round of EPL fixtures seeking a kickstart to their season. However, a solemn absence of sustainability has rendered all the above mentioned kickstarts premature. It is a measure of the challenge ahead for us that we lie some 6 points off the Chmapions League places, behind teams that have mastered the art of consistency, or at least are better than us at it. We really used to be good at it too.

Our season has come down to the next 15 games or so of the league campaign. Given that European glory in Portugal in May is more of a dream than aliens paying earth a visit, our season will from now on depend on how we apply ourselves domestically to make next season's Champions League. For starters, the next 9 points are an absolute must, not least because they are winnable.

The first of those 9 is against Cardiff City at Old Trafford. Now, ordinarily this would be a certain 3 points for the home side. However, as you might have heard over the news, this is no ordinary season. We've found it harder to win at home than visiting sides, so much so that away days have provided unusual comforts. What a shame!

The biggest subplot to the tie will be a debut to United's most expensive player, Juan Mata. The football world will be eager to see whether Mata suddenly makes United different proposition or whether he will be swallowed up by the blackhole that is the United midfield. The other significant subplot to the tie is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's return to Old Trafford, only this time as the adversary.

Ultimately though, the most important factor on the night will be whether Manchester United win. Anything less and it will count for little if Mata produced a stunning overhead assist, or if Soskjaer replicated that '99 winning goal at halftime and slid towards the Stretford End.

So COME ON UNITED!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

WE'RE BACK!

After a month or two sorting out the site URL and other stuff beyond my kmowledge, i'm pleased to report that this blog is back among the lot. In the period of shutdown, United have endured their worst run of form for a generation. We're as far back as 7th in the league standings, some 6 points off the Champions League places.

Yours truly remains in the hope that we could yet nick that berth especially since the transfer window has given the manager an opportunity to refresh the squad a little. We all know what refreshing can do to a slow internet page. Speaking transfers, how about that for a January signing. This paricular window is not famous for signings at United, but it will now go down as the window in which we made our record signing.

Somehow, the club managed to come to an agreement with Chelsea of £37.1m. If the manager and the executive vice wanted to make an apologetic noise about the summer, what a noise they've made! It doesn't even make sense for me to start blogging about Mata's talents and what he brings to the table because he is one of those players that need no introduction. Suffice it is to say that we all hope he kickstarts a season in which we've lost the key to the car, let alone engage first gear. More of the same please Moyesie!

In all this though, spare a thought for those that promised to take a naked tour of Wembley if United signed Mata.