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Oct 212013

Manchester United 1-1 Southampton
67cf655ee347eece0980e422ddfcb6986714d6301 Moyes Muppets Bollix it Up Again!Disappointment again for Manchester United and their fans, as, having fallen asleep at the wheel toward the end of the match, the red devils gave up a soft goal from a corner with only one minute to go in regular time. Truth be told, it was nothing better or worse than the single point they earned and deserved. Maybe United were a tad unlucky having hit the post twice, but the level of concentration, desire and heart a champion needs is not being found, either individually or collectively by their manager David Moyes, his coaches or the players. When all was said and done, Moyes’ ‘tactics’ proved null and void, United did not play with any heart and their youthful opponents did.

Before the match, United’s 18-year-old wing wünderkind, Adnan Januzaj, inked a five year contract and had a press conference accompanied by Moyes and the club’s money man, Ed Woodward. This was about as good as the day was going to get. Januzaj made a fantasy day of his first start two weeks ago against Sunderland when he scored both goals; unfortunately, lightning did not strike twice. Although we all knew that the kid had helped temporally paper over some severe cracks in United’s team, especially a desperately poor defense, quality will tell and United just don’t have it. Having sat on the lead and squandered too many opportunities, it seemed to be an inevitable moment of justice when Adam Lallana wiped out United’s complacent lead with a tap-in after a late corner.

Januzaj was in the thick of things from the beginning, not the least of which was being blatantly sent flying by a studs-up Nathaniel Clyne. Still, aside from a lot of nice dribbling and a couple of killer passes into empty space, Januzaj and his partner, right winger Nani got little succor from their strikers, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie. Januzaj’s third effort, however, did the trick. His perfectly weighted through ball found a slightly offside Wayne Rooney with only the goalkeeper to beat. The referee Michael Jones did not blow his whistle, though, and Southampton’s goalie Artur Boruc made a fine save from Rooney, but had no chance of retrieving when Robin van Persie moved wide and slammed home the rebound in the 26th minute.

It was only the third goal Southampton have conceded this season, which is pretty impressive considering the PL season is already eight matches in. The Saints showed grit and good organization, proving that the point they earned at Anfield before the international break was no fluke. Had they known how to score goals also, they might well have given United another hammering. Atypically, their sole big ticket item, striker Dani Osvaldo–repeatedly given the run of the box by a reticent Jonny Evans–botched a true sitter when Rooney lost possession close to his own box. Lucky for United, Osvaldo froze in front of goal and fired a mild shot that David De Gea saved easily.

Although there was some fairly decently entertaining end-to-end stuff from both sides in the first half, the second half was mostly flat and lame as both Rooney and Osvaldo missed more chances early in. How Rooney missed an exquisite Nani pass in the 73rd minute is beyond all ken. Then again, why Nani was denied a penalty after being yanked down by Luke Shaw in the penalty area on two separate occasions only referee Mike Jones will ever know. With bookings at a premium this season, one of the main differences between the two teams, was United’s team-wide reticence to get stuck in with their tackling. Marouane Fellaini, who was shouldered with much of the blame for United’s lame performance by assorted pundits, seemed terribly reticent to throw full force into his blocks and tackles. As this is the main reason the big Belgian was brought in, one can only conjecture that Moyes gave very clear instructions to his team not to foul. Unfortunately, manager Mauricio Pocchetino’s Saints/ showed no such squeamishness.

All in all, deep into the second half, the game was still in the balance, within Southampton enjoying the lion’s-share of possession, when Van Persie headed a Rooney corner on to the crossbar, Later, Januzaj executed a swerving shot from 25 yards that Boruc made a fantastic save of. Even the disappointing Marouane Fellaini missed a rebound after collecting a rebound on the edge of the penalty area. In between these efforts Southampton kept the ball and stayed in the game with nothing but hard work and much running. Indeed, over the last fifteen minutes or so–Fergie’s old squeaky-bum time–Southampton definitely finished the stronger. as Lallana and Clyne both forced fantastic late saves from De Gea. Thus when the super-lunged Clyne won a late corner, substitute James Ward-Prowse’s effort saw the centre-back pairing of Phil Jones and Jonny Evans standing around casually, leaving Southampton’s centre-half Dejan Lovren to divert it towards goal and the completely unmarked Saints’ captain Adam Lallana to toe-poke the equalizer home.

United are now eight points behind the league leaders Arsenal. This is not good! Moyes may well ponder the calm, relaxed manner in which Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama pulled the strings in midfield, while the selfless leadership and relentless running from Lallana meant Saints always had the kind of options United never had. With all the fuss about the fiendish training methodology utilized by Moyes and Round, one can’t help but wonder about what keeps happening late in every game. United have only had two wins in seven matches. and the transfer window in January still seems a long long way away. A slow Stoke City are up next in the Premier League and, normally, a sense of cautious confidence would be the order of the day. Nothing could be further from the truth right now, however, as our perfidious old boy, Sparky Hughes, and his band of oversize warriors will be bound and determined to catch us at a low ebb.
Robin van Persie of Manch 006 Moyes Muppets Bollix it Up Again!

Ivor Irwin

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