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Nov 042013

Fulham 1-3 Manchester United
Robin van Persie scores 001 Thirteen Minutes Of EcstacyUnited’s manager David Moyes will surely be delighted with his team’s thirteen minute spell of razor-sharp ruthlessness, expanding their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions with a well deserved fourth consecutive win. Not bad at all, but we want more!

Victories featuring the fingers-crossed, gormless pairing of Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley in central midfield are bound to be as rare as hen’s teeth. Allowed huge mounts of space by the geriatric, stiff-upper-lipped London-Lad pairing of Steve Sidwell and Scott Parker, Messrs, Van Persie and Rooney had the run of Craven Cottage and enjoyed themselves tremendously. This season they will rarely get as easy a first half as they did at Craven Cottage.

It was hard not to feel sorry for Fulham’s embattled manager, Martin Jol; but, if it’s horses for courses, his team never stood a chance. A lackluster defeat at Southampton last weekend and a mid-week Capital One Cup exit to Leicester City in midweek have Jol teetering like a drunk on the North Face of the Eiger. After having made the footballing Lord of laissez-faire, Dimitar Berbatov, his captain for the day, it may be that the big Dutchman has given up the ghost already and is simply awaiting the whisper of the axe. The latest bookmaker free bets can be especially interesting.

Fulham fell a goal behind only nine minutes in as a sharp United effortlessly dissected the Cottagers anemic defense. Beautifully functional in execution, Robin Van Persie hoovered up a long Nemanja Vidic pass and swiveled exquisitely before playing in an unselfish Rooney, who cut the ball back to Valencia. The Ecuadorian winger took his time and expertly prodded home his chance.

With Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones quicker than Sidwell and Parker in the first half, who needed Michael Carrick or Marouane Fellaini? But having made a few useful plays, once relaxed, Tom Cleverley really does love to give the ball away to the opposition and Scott Parker seized on two telegraphed efforts. The first time, he, too missed with his pass, but the second time he put in a fine pass to Dimitar Berbatov. Fortunately, Rafael Da Silva made a clever, well-timed tackle to frustrate the Bulgarian striker. Moments later, however, United dismantled any sense of self-esteem the West Londoners had quickly built up, scoring twice more in the space of four minutes.

The brilliant Adnan Januzaj was the instrument of the second goal. After having been dispossessed by Parker, Parker went down in a dramatic heap after losing it back to the young Belgian. But the referee, Lee Probert, was having none of it and, while Parker jumped back up to argue, the baby-faced assassin was off to the races before passing to an unmarked Van Persie, who powered the ball home from 15 yards out. Two minutes more and Rooney made child’s play of a tap-in after a fine sweeping diagonal run made it 3-0.

In the second half, not helped at all by injuries to Rafael, Cleverley and Evans, United made three substitutions and suddenly turned promiscuously lax. It would be pointless to blame Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini or Shinji Kagawa, when collective vanity and complacency were the true problem. With Jones and Fellaini now policing midfield, United were too static to to think in terms of their usual counterattacking tactics. Apart from Rooney, Van Persie, and the ebulient Januzaj, United’s collective confidence seemed to suddenly drain away.

Fulham v Manchester Unite 011 Thirteen Minutes Of EcstacyRelentlessly sloppy, United looked all set to botch yet another match after the 65th minute, when a 20-yard shot by Alexander Kacaniklic pinged into the net after taking a deflection off Valencia. Still way too casual even then, United began to miss pass after pass and stopped chasing and pressing. And things really tightened up tremendously after Jol made a couple of wise decisions. First, in the 75th minute, the big Dutchman substituted Berbatov’s partner-in-sloth Bryan Ruiz with Adel Taarabt. Soon after, on came Darren Bent for a tired Scott Parker. The graft and passing prowess that Taraabt added to his team’s midfield almost paid off with a couple of headers from Bent and Berbatov that hit United’s upright.

The subdued home crowd were only roused when it came to booing. Letting Bryan Ruiz have it when he left the field and Darren Bent when he came on. There was also a serious confrontation between Marouane Fellaini and right back Sascha Riether after the Fulham defender clearly appeared to stamp on Adnan Januzaj. Clearly, Januzaj, with his amazing capacity to dribble, enrage his opponents and draw free kicks so well, is already becoming a special part of the Premier League.

Considering the concussion suffered by Tom Cleverley and the high number of foul and indignities perpetrated on Adnan Januzaj, it’s about time Marouane Fellaini was kept out on the pitch to serve and protect his teammates. This protection factor is, right now, essential!
70868974 708688961 Thirteen Minutes Of Ecstacy

Oct 302013

Manchester United 4-0 Norwich City
70790365 70790359 Januzaj Makes the Canaries Cry!Well, there’s no need to get hyperbolic, but United enjoyed a splendid rainy evening at Old Trafford as if they were guests in one of those Tahitian Tiki-type bars in one of the ultra-luxurious hotels they stayed in during their last money-spinning monsoon-and-muggy-heat tour of the Far East this Summer. Indeed, things went so swimmingly in the rain that it could, ideally, have been the whole season starting over from point zero. Three well taken goals and a lucky penalty definitely gave United their groove back. Led by a fearless Adnan Januzaj, United held their own in the middle of a Premier League park for the first time in more than a season. Januzaj may not be the passer the club desperately needs, but he took the game by the scruff of its neck against a low-energy Norwich and ran things beautifully, rarely using his comfort zone on the flanks at all. Very much over matched, led from the back by Sebastian Bassong and Leroy Fer, the Canaries lacked potency throughout, with only the tricky Nathan Redmond posing any sort of threat to United’s rickety old defense, featuring Vidic and Ferdinand as C.B.s.

With Januzaj a looming epiphany in the middle, holding the ball at will, whoever would have been picked as a striker had it all going for him. Moyes picked Javier Hernández on the night and the Mexican assassin had a fine night and a pair of goals to show for it. The fact is that he very much needed to big himself up after spending most of October misfiring for Mexico’s national team and getting splinters in his posterior from sitting on United’s bench. Used rarely by either Ferguson or Moyes as a starter, Hernández’s role on the big occasions is as an impact substitute a la Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. As such he is superb! There are however, more and murmurs coming from his camp–his agent, his mother and father interviewed on Republica Deportivo and friends in the Mexican press–that he wants desperately to be a starter. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen in his immediate future at Manchester United. One just hopes he will recognize the perfectibility in what he does right now and stays, but this is doubtful. At any rate, happy or unhappy, his ability to execute when not being pressed by big men was right there for David Moyes, his coaches and the fans to see and will give the Glaswegian much food for thought. More than a competent deputy for Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, Chicharito has thus far poached an equal number of goals.

United drew first blood in the 20th minute as Januzaj drew a fortunate penalty. The baby-faced Belgian was dribbling on the byline, with his back to goal when big Leroy Fer, who was attempting to badger him off the ball, used some rough manners, his left leg poking across the back of the young United player’s calves. It seemed to be a surprise to everybody when Kevin Friend, the referee, blew his whistle and pointed to the penalty spot. Hernández’s penalty was side-footed powerfully to the right of Norwich’s goalkeeper Mark Bunn who had dived the wrong way. The rest of the team may have felt relaxed about having the lead, not so Januzaj. He was ravenous for the ball. Those mazy dribbles of his do not always work but he showed relentless courage., his exquisite ball-handling a fine mix of balance and left-footed subtlety.

Less successful were Wilfried Zaha and Ashley Young on the wings. Zaha flitted about a lot in the first half and caused Norwich’s defense trouble. A nice set-up for Chicharito just missed and Nathan Redmond had to be pulled back to protect his vulnerable full backs. Meanwhile, on the left flank, Ashley Young saw plenty of the ball, but seemed almost painfully passive throughout. Constrained from diving, Young concentrated on plenty of pouting and wind-sprints with the ball at his feet.. At the end of each sprint he would pump the ball into the box, but never once came close to any of his teammates. Young’s corners–and it is to his credit that he won many–were all (every single one!) over hit, whether just past the penalty box or into the crowd.fabio norwich twitter tr16ia Januzaj Makes the Canaries Cry!

Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones Jones stayed away from trouble in midfield, making nothing but short square passes. On the night, it was exactly what Unitede needed. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, both clearly trying to regain the sharpness they’ve lacked so often this season, may not have much left in their legs but there was enough juice on hand for them to keep the big, gormless Swedish striker, Johan Elmander, passive and contained.

The game was nine minutes into the second half when Alexander Büttner, who had his best game thus far in a United kit, showed Young how the passing thing is done. After a fine run down the left flank, his cross for Hernández was perfect. The Mexican’s header drew a reflex save from Mark Bunn, its rebound bouncing nicely for Hernández to nod home at a second attempt.

Shortly afterward, the Norwich midfielder Robert Snodgrass had to be taken off on a stretcher, breathing through an oxygen mask, after a clash of heads with Rafael da Silva. Eleven minutes later, play began again. The stoppage time served to temporarily revive Norwich as Redmond made a couple of nice runs before being dispossessed.

Phil Jones’ fine goal came three minutes from the end of normal time as a hard hit Rafael cross was diverted into his path and the rubber-faced England international blasted a volley home. Last, but not least, a fine jinky, head-down run by substitute Wayne Rooney was followed by a seeing-eye lob that his fellow sub Fabio Da Silva hovered up, controlled, steered around Bunn and then fired home underneath him,

Having suffered debilitating defeats to Liverpool, Manchester City and West Brom last month, United have won four and drawn two in October. The defending Premier League champions, eight points off the top of the table, play Fulham next Saturday before meeting current leaders Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 10.”You need to go on runs in this league and this club is the best in the business at building that,” United’s assistant manager Steve Round said after the match.Javier Hern ndez fires Ma 011 Januzaj Makes the Canaries Cry!

Bushido Football!

 Posted by on July 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm  Blogs/Media, England, Manchester United
Jul 262013

Cerezo Osaka 2-2 Manchester United
Wilfried Zaha 008 Bushido Football!The never ending soap opera that is Manchester United continued in Osaka. While the gossip factory back home in blighty belched out continuous yes/no rumor-mongering vis-a-vis Cesc Fabregas leaving F.C. Barcelona to become part of our brilliant crew, the Japanese celebrated the return of a native son as Shinji Kagawa was feted and celebrated to the uncomfortable point of idolatry. For anybody watching this match who doesn’t own a schoolgirl crush on Kagawa, the game took on all the bizarre glamor of a pay-per-view WWF grudge match. With 85,000 locals relentlessly making banshee-like shrieking noises, Our Shinji did it all: Scored a goal, missed a sitter, missed a penalty. I hope the crowd got what they wanted. The game was entertaining indeed, but it was hardly professional football.

At any rate, Our new young rising star, Wilfried Zaha, spared his more famous teammate Shinji Kagawa from much embarrassment when he scored an injury-time equalizer for Manchester United over J League heavyweights Cerezo Osaka just as it seemed like the Red Devils were about to suffer a third tour defeat against Prince Shinji’s old club. The grateful massed squeal of the crowd as Kagawa’s substitute tapped home n a low, beautiful cross from Anderson’s meant a final sense of yin equaling yang after Kenyu Sugimoto and Yusuke Maruhashi had scored either side of Kagawa’s equalizer.

United began with a lot of hustle and Cerezo’s South Korean goalie Kim Jin-hyeon was busy from the get-go after he made a flying save off a stinging left-footed Robin Van Persie shot inside the first minute. The Dutchman had been the victim all week of many panic ridden rumors about having an injured hamstring after being taken off early in the team’s loss to Yokohama. on Tuesday. Clearly, in spite of the Daily Mirror, he was okay! Indeed, Van Persie was in the mood for long-distance target practice as Kim was forced to make three diving saves off him in the first half. Quite a useful custodian, Kim made a string of fine saves, although he was extremely lucky that a spectacular diving Phil Jones header went over the bar.

It’s doubtful that they ever do this normally, but it was so humid and just plain hot that officials and coaches decided to take a drinks break midway through both halves. Meanwhile, as United began to wilt, Osaka improved. Anders Lindegaard was forced to make a series of quality saves before their forward Edno sent his header straight at the Dane from pointblank range. Any kind of nod in either direction would have put the hosts ahead, to be sure. But minutes later, clearly intent upon giving his blundering rival Jonny Evans a run for his money, Chris Smalling hesitated with the ball at his feet in the six yard box and a thieving magpie, Masahiro Sugimoto, was there to steal away the ball and fire home past Lindegaard to make it 1-0.

Late in the half, Van Persie picked up a loose ball after Danny Welbeck had failed with a beautifully powered rocket which hit the post. Normally, the lethal Rotterdam assassin would surely have surely scored himself. Instead, in some weird kind of reverse loyalty and Bushido to his teammate, RVP squared chivalrously toward Osaka’s venerated Home Boy Kagawa. Absurdly, ridiculously and almost unbelievably, Kagawa caught the ball on his instep and hit it with his laces high over the bar accompanied by Takashi Mike samurai-movie moans from the capacity crowd.

Still, United kept up their pressing game and that other legend, Ryan Giggs, narrowly failed with a chip shot over the bar before Welbeck came close as his shot beat Kim but curled wide by a bare inch or so. Kagawa then really blew everybody’s mind. After a sprinting Ashley Young was brought down in the box, Van Persie shrugged, bowed to his colleague and allowed Shinji to take the spot kick. Unfortunately, Kagawa hit it too softly and the goalkeeper guessed right, making a fine low save. This caused the embarrassed crowd to make even more bizarre keening noises. Luckily, ten minutes later, Kagawa was the recipient of a sweet lobbed Giggs pass into the box which Kagawa had all the time in the world to fire home.

Cerezo were not to be easily shrugged off, however, and after some sterling midfield work, Anderson lost the ball to Minamino. Minemino then executed a fine bit of dribbling, executing a deft run to the edge of the box before firing a bazooka which exploded into the top corner of the net.

With both sides clearly tired and wilted, the exhibition match began to take on the look of the final round of an old Rocky Movie as the two teams staggered all over the grass, the Japanese team desperately trying to hold the lead as United periodically worked toward a draw. Yet, after some marvelous dribbling artistry from Zaha, Cerezo almost scored a third as Lindegaard made a fine, flying. fingertip save to deny Maruhashi.

It was only in injury time that the Premier League champions managed to salvage their dignity as Zaha, the new young winger who has impressed the most on this three-week trip, ruthlessly took his chance from close range.

Yokohama Marinos 3-2 Manchester United
Read the usual blogs and you’ll see the usual fans are going at it, as per usual. The panic brigade is already considering collective seppuku while the usual Orthodox loyalism-obsessed jihadis want to behead anybody who hasn’t fallen into a state of instantaneous thrall to Davie Moyes and his new crew. All of it is stuff and nonsense, of course. As with any preseason match, much that’s useful can be learned by the coaching staff and pundits alike, but nothing significant; nevertheless, a vanity -beguiled Manchester United side suffered a second defeat out of three preseason matches when the J League’s Yokohama Marinos scored late for a well deserved win.

The good news is the same. Jesse Lingard scored another goal and, alongside the equally hungry Adnan Januzaj and Wilfried Zaha, United clearly own some impressive and potentially fruitful young attacking talent. Bad-news wise, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans were just as mismatched at center back as they were when paired together for Sir Alex Ferguson’s 5-5 farewell at the Hawthorns in May. Once Fergie’s blue-eyed Ulster boy–leading to the exit of a far superior talent in Gerard Pique–Evans, along with teammate Tom Cleverley, is the ultimate proof of the cliché that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Repeatedly positionally retarded, Evans is living proof that, no matter which videos you watch, or how much good coaching you receive, all the natural athleticism in the world can not render you intelligent. The opposite holds true for Cleverley. Although he is energetic and intelligent, he is shockingly slow and technically predictable. When scouts on the other side of the world can so readily prepare their less talented players to trivialize two of your starters, there’s a problem.

The United team which won the World Club Cup in its last appearance in the same stadium in 2008 clearly bears no resemblance to this one. Of course, the introduction to massive applause of Shinji Kagawa, was very moving for the locals and lucrative for the Glazers. Lots of Kagawa, Van Persie and Rooney replica shirts were sold. Yet Moyes started a youthful lineup. and was clearly happy early on as they fought back after suffering an early sucker-punch. Yokohama attacked straight away and David de Gea had to make an acrobatic save to deny Brazilian striker Marquinhos. But the ball was too desperately hacked-away by a leggy Patrice Evra, who is clearly just a shadow of his old self. Hanato then played the ball back into United’s penalty area for the 37-year-old Marquinos to streak past the flat-footed Evans, Jones and Evra, before slamming home. And all before a minute had ticked by.

But United tied it up after eighteen minutes as the 20-year-old Jesse Lingard played a pretty pass out wide to Wilfried Zaha,. Sprinting into Yokohama’s box, Lingard took a difficult return pass from the speedy Zaha. A desperate Masakazu Tashiro stretched to intercept the cross but Lingard was there to seize the loose ball and fire home

With United fairly bubbling with energy, Yokohama were not coping well. Repeatedly teased and trivialized by Lingard and Zaha, Tashiro went up to block a wickedly hit Adnan Januzaj free-kick. The ball glanced off Tashiro’s shoulder into the net and United took the lead in the 32nd minute.

Slowly but surely, however, the high humidity began to slow United down. With Michael Carrick injured, United have offered ample opportunities to Tom Cleverley and his partner Anderson to prove themselves. Their passing quality from central midfield proved to be awful, however. Yokohama seemed to pick off every pass. Steadily growing more and more fatigued. United still made more than a few good chances. only for the plodding Jonny Evans to squander them. How he missed a beautiful Zaha cutback which was dished right onto his foot, but which he blasted way wide despite an open goal.
Minutes later, United let it all slip as the crowd’s national hero Kagawa made his first appearance. In the midst of a wall of noise, Yokohama’s Brazilian defender Fabio leapt high and headed Nakamura’s precise curving corner home.

In the latter part of the match Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck each squandered chances repeatedly. Yet, instead of keeping up the pressure, United looked ready to settle for a draw
The Marinos tireless veteran midfielder Jim Hanato had other ideas. Hanato took the ball from the weak-tackling Cleverley and zigzagged his determined way toward United’s box. With United’s whole defense backing up, Hanato chipped a long ball straight to Yoshihito Fujita, who tapped the ball home past a a stranded David de Gea for the victory.

Aside from minor injuries to Robin Van Persie and Danny Welbeck, what Moyes called “wee worries,” United got away with no more than a loss. Yet with so much at stake back home in the world’s most lucrative league, and so many parallel changes in the Premiership at Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton, the new manager and his number two, Steve Round, have much to chew upon. With Vidic repeatedly injured, Evra’s legs gone and repeated lackluster ineptitude from Young, Cleverley and Anderson, they are running out of time to decide whether to cut them loose and sell them on the cheap or persevere with their presence. At worse,we should repeat last year’s Jekyll and Hyde model: Inspirational attack accompanied by a porous defense. If Moyes can find two or three pieces at the back and to bolster the midfield, United can still win it all again.

May 142013

Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City
Sir Alex Ferguson 004 There’ll Never Be Another His Like: Goodbye Sir Alex!It was a lovely day at Old Trafford as the faithful gathered to celebrate the momentous retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Scholes and a 20th club championship. The genteel crowd was loud without being raucous and everybody seemed to have brought a banner to wave in lieu of becoming too drunk with passion on an obviously emotional night. Indeed, the only thing that threatened the Hollywood, fairy-tale-style story was the upstart-type rudeness of Manchester United’s guests Swansea City. Superior by far to United’s jaded team of played out carousers–especially in the second half., manager Michael Laudrap’s team almost stole away with the cup that had long since runneth over. Fortunately, United own more than one wizard and its Dutch one, Robin Van Persie, waved his magic wand in the 87th minute, supplying a fantastic pass that Rio Ferdinand, who rarely ever scores, was on the spot to volley home for the winner.

It was the kind of last minute coup-de-grace United’s fans have grown used to this season. Nothing surprising to Fergie and his Ginger Prince, of course, although both were jumping up and down in their seats.This had been Scholes’s 498th Premier League appearance, during which he helped the club win 11 titles during a brilliant career .Scholes, the quiet master of the probing midfield pass balls, has been a performer of integrity, lauded by the likes of his contemporaries Xavi, Edgar Davids, Kaka and Zinedene Zedane as the greatest English footballer ever, Scholes has always shrugged his shoulders and let his football do the talking..

Indeed, so momentous were these goings-on that Wayne Rooney’s Mother’s Day decision to announce that he wasn’t going to play and announce that he had just submitted a second written request for a transfer seemed to affect the proceedings not a whit. as Ferguson picked a mixture of old warriors like Ferdinand, Evra, Scholes and Carrick next to De Gea, Kagawa, Welbeck, Jones and Hernández. How funny it was to see our joyous Anderson conducting the Stretford End as they sang. “We won our trophy back now Mancini’s got the sack!”

At any rate, it was a fairly staid first half as United retained possession over a seemingly overawed Swansea team, and played a surprisingly slow kind of tiki-tak passing. Evra, Scholes, Van Persie and Welbeck all missed chances. It took until the 39th minute for United to finally execute. After an injury break to treat Welbeck and Neil Taylor after a clash of heads, United were awarded a free-kick. Van Persie’s kick landed awkwardly by Ashley Williams who pushed his clearance straight into Hernández’s path. Chicharito being Chicharito, he blasted the ball home from six yards out. Man Utd v Swansea 010 There’ll Never Be Another His Like: Goodbye Sir Alex!

After the break, united suddenly began missing their passes. With Jones playing right back, Carrick did not get the protection he likes from a tiring Anderson. Much harassed by De Guzman and Brittan, Carrick’s passing game evaporated. The first-rate Pablo Hernández helped himself to an Carrick feed and which forced Ferdinand to clear for a corner. Williams climbed high to nod Hernandez’s ball across goal where it landed at Nathan Dyer’s feet. The titchy winger’s inswinging pass was missed by a diving Jones before the fantastic goal-machine Michu managed to volley the ball past a stranded David De Gea.

If this caused disquiet in the United ranks, worse nearly occurred soon. Wayne Routledge got in behind – precisely where Ferdinand did not want him – but as the forward pulled the trigger Ferdinand got back close enough to make him miss to De Gea’s left. With the score tied, the Stretford End suddenly went quiet as City enjoyed almost twenty minutes of outright domination. Luckily De Gea made two great saves from the Spaniards, Hernandez and Flores.Man Utd v Swansea 013 There’ll Never Be Another His Like: Goodbye Sir Alex!

Luckily, having weathered the storm of an attacking single-minded. Swansea, United’s elderly brains-trust of Giggs and Van Persie were bound and determined to make a happy ending. And when Ferdinand volleyed home his first goal in five years in in the 87th minute, the victory/retirement party began in earnest.

After the match, Sir Alex Ferguson picked up the microphone and paid tribute to players, supporters, all of those, he said, those at United who had supported him in troubled early years Thus he segued into requesting We all give our full support to new manager David Moyes. the Gaffer then took off for ten minutes before returning with his triumphant squad (including Wayne Rooney) to celebrate this by-now familiar ritual of joyfully lifting the Premier League trophy, having reclaimed it from Our nemeses Manchester City.
Man Utd v Swansea 014 There’ll Never Be Another His Like: Goodbye Sir Alex!

May 012013

Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United
Robin van Persie Arsenal 008 1 Arsenal: If it Wasnt For No Class, They Wouldnt Have No Class At All! The story behind the story. My dream. Friday at the Arsenal training ground. Theo Walcott is staring at his opened locker door. Scotch-taped to the door is a carefully cut out newspaper photo of Rio Ferdinand. Theo is making his war face.
“You talkin’’ to me?” he says in his thin Berkshire boy-soprano mockney. “Are you talkin’’ to me?”
Rio just stares back, which makes Theo madder and madder. “Are you talking to me?”
He feints and then throws a left hook just short of the photo. Doesn’t want to dislocate his shoulder again, does he?
“We-ell I don’t see anyone else in this room,” he says real Yardie-like. “So I’m gonna have to kick your arse.”
Next to him, on the left is Gervinho, his funny, string and real hair toupée-cum-extention do making funny noises as it taps against his forehead while he swears in French at a photo of Jonny Evans. To his right, Per Mertesacker, lovingly referred to as “Der Meatsack” by his teammates, keeps staring at Wayne Rooney and calling him “Shkausser Schweinhundt!”
Meanwhile, behind them, an old skinny Alsatian named Arséne is smacking a riding crop against a bench while his even dourer assistant sucks his teeth. “Zey got our little gift on Sunday, right Steve?” Steve Bould, nods repeatedly.
“Venez sur mes garçons de poupée lttle. Montrez-leur ce qui, dans le coeur d’une poupée, est un guerrier.!” *
Theo does not know what his silly French boss is talking about. He never knows what his silly French boss is talking about. But he does know he’s going to beat that bloody Rio Ferdinand all the way back to Pinner or Peckham, or wherever he comes from.
A dream? How else can one explain Sunday’s comic draw? Arséne Wenger, Nick Hornby and Piers Morgan with their simpering platitudes about their team being on its best behavior proved to be about as sincere as a pregnant nun. One more desperate, tragic attempt to seize an early advantage. Sure, the crowd booed at Robin Van Persie and, sure, the Dutchman looked sad. The full human comedy had to be played out, however, and, at the end of the game, Robin Van Persie had scored 25 league goals for Manchester United, 29 in all competitions, and taken over the lead for the Golden Boot from the hungry one, Luís Suarez of Liverpool. Arsenal fans went home even more miserable than they had when they arrived

Nevertheless, the goal he scored against Arsenal may turn out to have a truly resonant impact. Should Les Gooners miss out on a top four place in the Premier League and thus the Champions League next season, it will be the first time they have gone without the most lucrative of cash cows for the first time in fifteen years. Let me reiterate. You know the cliché–the one that says revenge is a dish which tastes much better when served cold–it was one Arsenal fans had to swallow in a state of deeply deserved anguish on Sunday. Having booed their former hero throughout the first half, they got their comeuppance. Yes, irony was well noted on all sides as Robin Van Persie stepped up to rocket home a well deserved, icily dispatched penalty in the 42nd minute while the fat lady sang.

United versus Arsenal matches are by their very nature ugly affairs. Not ugly in the vicious sense of United’s tactically ugly matches with Liverpool are. They are, rather, emotional, slapdash, petty, often badly behaved matches on both sides, full of sneaky off-the-ball encounters, relentless speed races, shocking mistakes and always always always too chock full of drama for mortal referees to handle. In this case, with Howard Webb’s favorite assistant Phil Dowd running things, veteran United fans were all well aware that if anybody was going to make sure He was going to be the star of the show, it would be Phil himself. And so it came to pass!

Arsenal were shockingly dominant for the first half hour. Testing Dowd with every single tackle, ankle-tapping and rabbit-punching off the ball, the Arse were the 2005 team temporarily reincarnated, minus the purity of talent and finesse, though. Much quicker to the ball, playing with width, sprinting to fill every space, repeatedly taking turns kicking Wayne Rooney as if he were a sort of Scouse Guy Fawkes dummy, they kept United pinned back while repeatedly, relentlessly daring them to retaliate for a series of cheap shots. Yet United did not retaliate. It all being part and parcel of a season of ridiculously good behavior. Yet the crew of officials seemed to blow everything Arsenal’s way. It became pretty clear once they’d received their fifth yellow card in a row after Rooney collided 50/50 with Arteta and Rafael Da Silva took umbrage after receiving a throw-in in the mush, that Phil Dowd was not in a state of empathy.

The one goal Arsenal did score came in the second minute and was so clearly offside that United actually took it well, seeming to sort of collectively shrug their shoulders. Ironically, Van Persie was the culprit as he carelessly gave the ball away to the thieving magpie Rosicky. The Slovak schemer was quickly off to the races before firing a fine pass into the box which Walcott sped onto from an offside position before firing a finish at an obtuse angle past a stranded David De Gea, who had no chance.

And from then on, until about the 40th minute, Arsenal played well. Still, led by Lucas Podolski in place of the suspended Olivier Giroud, although they attacked relentlessly, they were mostly ineffective. In spite of the relentless energy displayed by Rosicky, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazoría and, later. Wilshere, they were simply never looked capable of executing that effective last ball in United’s third of the field.

To say United took a long time to get going is a copious understatement. The boys were obviously hungover, many said. But these young millionaires really are quite fit and surely young enough to shrug off what might well hinder lesser men. Yet how did Rafael da Silva and Phil Jones both end up passing the ball to an invisible teammate and out of touch under no opposition pressure? Sure we expect De Gea to drop a clanger under pressure, but how did he simply drop a corner kick he caught cleanly and make a bollix out of a subsequent clearance? Wayne Rooney was fine in the second half, but in the first half he seemed to spend a lot of time admiring the hue of his boots. Nani and Valencia were more or less invisible beyond passively absorbing cheap shots from Arteta and Ramsey. With Ferguson letting loose a very audible string of invectives at the fourth official and a grinning Phil Dowd, United’s ‘hangover’ seemed to be more of a case of narcolepsy. The kind of body-snatched stupor associated with absinthe, not champagne!?

Yet, as bizarrely un-United as they so often seemed early on, they still created a couple of opportunities of their own before Van Persie’s equalizer. Phil Jones, as cumbersome and awkward as he seems, was a more and more of a menace in midfield as Arteta and Ramsey’s off-the-ball bullying upped his ire. Well set up by Evra and Rafael Da Silva, he headed two gaping sitters wide of the goal. Then, having botched a series of half-chances, Nani sold Arteta an exquisite dummy, lifted a breathtaking cross into the path of Van Persie as he sprinted into the box. How Szczesny saved his shot is hard to know.

But, minutes later, Van Persie shrugged off the cobwebs again. In fairness to Dowd, his judgment was impeccable for the penalty because, at the speed the actual play was made at, it was anything but a straightforward decision. Picking up a Valencia pass, Van Persie took off at speed down the left-hand channel, leaving right back Bacary Sagna flat-footed and humiliated. Having made a mistake, Sagna swiveled and gave chase. In an attempt to make up for his mistake, he slid in on Van Persie’s ankles and threshed him down well inside the box. Dowd, who had already forgiven an identical foul by Sagna on Evra earlier, grinned back at a caterwauling Ferguson, blew his whistle and pointed at the penalty spot. Many in the crowd were amazed. A wall of boos accompanied that penalty, but Robin Van Persie is made of strong stuff. His shot, a piece of raw, pure, beautiful left-footed power, beat Wojciech Szczesny easily.

Whatever did go wrong on the day for United, I think none of us or them have any idea of what it was. Absinthe drinking offers up as silly a reason as any. The sad reality is that they had a fine opportunity to set a record and overtake Chelsea’s 95 points, from José Mourinho’s first title-winning side in 2005, but that chance is now gone. The game could have gone either way in the second half but it was an erratic performance from the champions. Indeed as monentous as some of the bad moments have been this season, it’s rare occasion when they look as disheveled and disoriented as they had in the opening 40 minutes.

I don’t mean to belabor this issue again and again, but, really, how is it that, despite being so close to London, the ruling class at the F.A. and by virtue of always having their noses up in the air and always out of joint, and thus, by implication, closer to God, why do Arsenal have no dignity or class? Poisoning Spurs’ buffet on the night before a crucial last match of the season over fourth place in 2007 typifies how they operate. Their willingness to form a guard escorting the champions on to the field was, their manager said, a sample of just how sportsmanlike they were. Yet any good will ended there as, clearly having noticed what everybody else has also clearly taken advantage of this season, that this current United squad, although massively talented, is both physically and emotionally the weakest Manchester United have fielded ever. Indeed, having been beaten up plenty this season, winning the championship surely is even more of an achievement. Taking one’s lumps goes with the territory. We understand that. Nevertheless, the petty acts of sly, underhanded , off-the-ball skulduggery perpetuated by Les Gooners and willfully turned a blind eye to by Phil Dowd should be duly noted by United fans. No matter what, I pray that Sir Alex Ferguson buys at least one player who is familiar with the dark arts of the game for next season. Those who doubt me might tune in to Bayern’s Champions Cup steamrollering of Barcelona. The natural toughness and adaptability of a certain Javíer Martinez they bought for 50m euros from Athletic Bilbao had made a world of difference to them which the Gaffer shouldnote

And so, finally, picture Theo in his parents basement in Compton, Berkshire. Still staring at the same newspaper cutout of Rio, only now it’s attached to a mirror and he’s wearing boxing gloves.
“You talkin’’ to me? You talkin’’ to me, Rio? Offside? Rubbish.” He throws a combination at the mirror. “Is there anyone else in this room?”
Arsenal v Manchester United Premier League 1858663 1 Arsenal: If it Wasnt For No Class, They Wouldnt Have No Class At All!

*”Show them that inside the heart of my doll-boys is the heart of a warrior!”

Apr 102013

Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City
Rafael cant find a way pa 011 Dire Red Devils Disappoint in Derby!That nasty little bugger did it to to us again! Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero, having been the assassin’s knife almost a year ago when City beat Q.P.R.. in the ebbing moments of injury time in the final game of the season to clinch the Premier League championship on goal average, did the dirty deed to Manchester United yet again. It was a marvelous goal, the result of an incredible off-balance run through a wall of four determined defenders after picking up a superb seeing-eye pass from Yaya Touré. United’s goalkeeper, David De Gea, who had very little work to do on the night, simply didn’t have a chance as Agüero, despite being surrounded at an acute angle and bent at his lowest possible point of gravity, blasted a hard-right footer into the roof of the net. A minor miracle of pure will, it illustrated once again the difference between a weak-willed, arrogant, indifferent, error-prone Manchester United team and opponents who, although they may not actually be superior, have proven to be more resolute, committed and strategically superior.

After having their fifteen point lead at the top of the P.L. table cut down to twelve, United are tripping over their flaccid todgers deep into Lord Ferg’s squeaky-bum time. Yet, despite all their euphoric hysteria and spending 300 million pounds sterling building an instantaneous contender into last year’s champions, City have flattered to deceive throughout a season of interior discontent and flux., their supporters must wonder why their mercenary players could not have shown such drive and togetherness more often. Yet the fact is that United–in the moments when they executed their usual run-and-gun-style tactics still caused City to wobble. And although the Gaffer repeatedly refers to fatigue as the problem, the club’s difficulties have more to do with psychology and tactics than the quality of their opponents. Ferguson may indeed have called Robin van Persie’s performance “fantastic” but the Dutch striker, in spite of more than a few moments of pure inspiration, was just as disappointing as a moping Wayne Rooney., whose most useful moment on the pitch was a hard, two-footed, studs-up challenge on James Milner. Milner, who City’s manager Roberto Mancini seems to coach into a snarling manifestation of Lucifer before each derby match, had a brilliant day, bullying Ashley Young–whose most memorable moments were spent grimacing on the grass from nonexistent fouls and Michael Carrick, who played like a cranky sleep-deprived child in need of a cup of Horlicks and a Farley’s rusk. Their partner in midfield Ryan Giggs simply had a bad day. And although the clock has clearly run down and close to out for Giggsy’s teammate, Paul Scholes, the Welshman simply had an off one. What seemed like a very logical move, removing Young and Giggs, for the possibility of more effectiveness in introducing Nani and Shinji Kagawa after the match was tied, never took place. Doubtless, Rooney was not in a scoring mood, but the advantages of moving him back to protect a wincing, clearly debilitated Carrick seemed obvious.

At any rate, it took until six minutes into the second half after mostly cautious play by both sides before City seized the advantage. Gareth Barry, who did little throughout proceedings but ankle-tap Welbeck and Rooney, had the presence of mind to pick off a dreadfully telegraphed Giggs pass. He squared it to Nasri and Milner’s left-foot shot took a difficult deflection off Phil Jones past a wrong-footed De Gea’s stretched-out right hand.

City’s defense, which has often disappointed this season, looked after a repeatedly shaky Joe Hart well. That is until the 59th minute when Hart read an exquisite curving Robin Van Persie free kick wrong. Well-beaten, Hart took off to block Phil Jones at the far post, only for Jones to miss the header and have the ball squib into the net off his shoulder and then off the the back of Vincent Kompany.

From then on, the handbags came out and, depending upon whether you believe captains and managers should be the ones who try to deal with the officials in the old school manner, or not. City don’t. City were heavily involved in a relentless attempt to intimidate the referee, a clearly jittery Mike Dean. Ferguson and Evra chose to do little while Mancini simply harangued Dean. Later, when when Rio Ferdinand opted to play on despite David Silva being ‘injured,’ Kun Agüero had a long hissy-fit where he, too, verbally abused Dean. Later, Giggs and Barry grappled over a rough tackle, which led to a sort of halfhearted melée. And although nothing violent actually took place, both Dean’s reticence and Evra’s ineffectivety as a team leader added needless extra emotion to the proceedings.

With the game looking more and more like an acceptable draw to both sides, Mancini brought on his mighty atom Agüero. Eight minutes later,Yaya Touré slipped the ball to Agüero inside a crowded box and the Argentine striker located a hole, sprinted, dummied Rafael, zigzagging left to right through Welbeck, Jones and Ferdinand before hitting his brilliant winner.

Last, but not least, with more or less everybody putting in a lackluster performance, Phil Jones looked to have finally cemented a spot as second center half at the expense of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and his partner on the night Rio Ferdinandfor next season. Had he not been forced to deal with a desperately increased workload once Rio got tired and leggy toward the end the match, Jones did well against both Carlos Tevez and Agüero and, now and again, up against big Edin Dzeko. His bulk and work ethic will be very much needed in the match against the extra-large Stoke City crew next Sunday.
Robin van Persie leaps be 004 Dire Red Devils Disappoint in Derby!