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United Punish the Goalposts

 Posted by on October 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm  Blogs/Media, England, Europe, Manchester United
Oct 242013

Manchester United 1-0 Real Sociedad
Manchester United celebra 008 United Punish the GoalpostsNo doubt about it. The fans and pundits who complain about the lack of general ruthlessness in David Moyes’ new version of Manchester United do have a point. On a night when both Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa were both brilliant, their general inability (them and their teammates) to fire that final coup de gráce was shocking. The margin of error in a 1-0 home is stressful to all and sundry concerned, especially when United really were so dominant throughout most of the match. The scoreline was surely not the one a deeply cautious Moyes would have liked after throwing caution to the wind during so much of the match. Nevertheless, United gritted their teeth and performed with verve enough to get the necessary three points.

Having been mauled by the pundits over his admittedly odd substitutions against Southampton in the PL at the weekend, Moyes came off as more of a jolly populist for starting Javíer ‘Chicharito’ Hernandéz and Shinji Kagawa. With Robin van Persie still suffering soreness from toe and groin injuries, the dour Scot had Hernández partnered with Rooney up front while Kagawa took over on the left from Adnan Januzaj and Ryan Giggs partnered Michael Carrick in central midfield. As the Basque team is small and built for speed, it was surely a relief for the tackle-shy Carrick to deal with the tricky but more finesse-oriented Sociedad and not have to hide behind Marouane Fellaini.

United’s nerves were soothed early as they got a second minute gift thanks to some Sociedad comedy defending. Indeed, it was wonderful to watch as a slick Wayne Rooney turned Markel Bergara inside-out deep in the penalty area, setting himself up exquisitely before blasting a bazooka which rebounded off the upright straight into the uncoordinated path of a panic-stricken Iñigo Martínez, who reached out tentatively with his right foot only to tip the spinning ball into his own net. Ten minutes on, United almost made it two as their goalie, Claudio Bravo made his first save of the game, stopping a Rooney shot on the line after a fine cross from Rafael Da Silva had set him up.

Passing with confidence, attacking relentlessly and running out every ball over each blade of Old Trafford grass, United really were sincerely in it to win it on the night. They were not, however, into the same kind of bullet-velocity wing play many of us have grown used to. Moyes is much more cautious than Ferguson when it comes to transitional play on the flanks, probably due in part to Patrice Evra’s inability to adapt his old legs to new realities. Atypically, Rooney was too high up the pitch to cope properly with an early Valencia cross. His cleverly improvised extemporaneous attempt at a scissors-kick to reach Valencia’s ball almost paid off, but a miss is good as a mile no matter what the cliché. And something identical almost happened again with minutes as Valencia let fly early with yet another shock early pass and finding an offside Hernandez. The Mexican assassin headed home, but was clearly adjudged to be offside.

Real Sociedad were not invisible, though. Luckily, the gifted shot-stopping abilities of David De Gea grow and grow. His one-handed save to prevent a Haris Seferovic shot from scoring definitely saved United because the whole team was standing around arguing, after the referee allowed the match to continue despite a blatant Martínez a foul on Giggs. United got even more fortunate as De Gea clearly wasn’t quick enough to reach a terrific free kick from Sociedad’s best player Antoine Griezmann which exploded off the crossbar. Why our defense keeps downing tools in these moments seems to defy all common sense! United survived a further scare at the start of the second half when Seferovic left Evra in the dust. His wicked shot fooled Evans, whose ugly clearance almost flew into his own net. 70674281 javierhernandezandwaynerooney United Punish the Goalposts

A quick caveat here. I can’t remember any game ever ever where the goalposts were hit so often. by both sides. Kagawa and Rooney both hit the goal posts three times. Valencia, Hernandez and Rafael once each. Bizarrely, early in the second half, Alberto de la Bella almost caught De Gea out of position with a shot that grazed the bar at one end while a wide-open Valencia badly hit a wide-open sitter against the post at the other. Valencia sensibly tried to make sure with his next opportunity, unselfishly squaring for a wide-open Kagawa goal. Unfortunately, the chance went begging once more as the Japanese took a soft touch in front of Bravo’s goal instead of shooting for power.

By the time Rooney blasted over the bar from six yards out in the 72nd minute, followed by Phil Jones header blocked by Bravo and Antonio Valencia’s low, angled shot ricocheting back off the post, United just seemed cursed. Exhausted, Sociedad barely put up a defense toward the end of the game and both Rooney and substitute Ashley Young failed to profit from a clean two-on-one situation four minutes from time, and, then, after squandering that one, as Giggs’ lovely chip found Kagawa flying again; unfortunately, alone and isolated, with only the goalkeeper in his way, the Japanese lost proper control of the ball and clipped it softly to Bravo.

Beyond Rooney’s whizz-bang display and his praise for the new manager after the game, and the voices of United’s brand-new ‘singing section,’ it’s also crystal-clear that Mr. Moyes can no longer afford to ignore Shinji Kagawa’s innate brilliance. Forced to start on the left wing, Shinji made do, working well with Ryan Giggs as they alternated positioninng in both central midfield and on the flank. When Chicharito was pulled late in the game for Ashley Young, Moyes moved Rooney front-center and put Kagawa in his favorite position, in the hole behind the striker. For the last fifteen minutes or so the industrious Japanese was an unstoppable force of nature.

It will be interesting to see if Moyes gives Robin Van Persie another chance to rest this weekend against Stoke. If the Dutchman is fit,I wouldn’t be at all averse to the boss putting a slightly withdrawn RVP on the left wing and Rooney as center-forward with Kagawa in the hole.
70674284 martinezowngoal United Punish the Goalposts

Oct 042013

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Manchester United
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manche 007 Davieball At the DonbassManchester United got it done for the very first time this season. They may not have won the game and been only able to muster a single shot on the Donetsk goal; nevertheless, they acquitted themselves well. They were disciplined, communicative and full of fight: Everything they have not been since the beginning of the season. For the disgruntled United fans out there who don’t like new manager David Moyes’ tactics, it won’t be much of a comfort at all, but this is the kind of strategy that impressed his predecessor, Sir Alex Ferguson in the first place. It’s what my Everton fan mate, Stocker Stew, calls ‘Davieball.’ Led by a surprisingly motor-mouthed, tough tackling, well-rested captain, Nemanja Vidic, United were determined to get the job done away from home against the solid Ukrainian champions, and did so. Coming out of Donetsk with a point, in spite of the beautiful stadium’s loud, raucous partisan fans, was a fine achievement. Actually, save for the one superbly taken equalizing goal from the talented Taison in the 76th minute, United nearly got away with a cheeky bit of smash-and-grab.

United’s pre-match prep was not helped by another training-ground injury to Wayne Rooney. The club’s stand-out performer of the season thus far suffered a shin injury on the eve of the game. Rooney’s absence took the number of changes to the United team beaten by West Bromwich Albion on Saturday to nine. Only David de Gea and Michael Carrick remained from the third defeat in four Premier League matches. United kept it compact and disciplined from the start, clearly focused on muting Shakhtar’s high-quality Brazilian front line led by the buccaneering Douglas Costa and Taison. Fellaini, Carrick and Cleverley kept their shape in central midfield, although their dreadful passing patterns–so very, very predictable throughout–did them no favors at all. With Patrice Evra pinned back by the pure speed of Dario Srna and Taison, Danny Welbeck and Antonio Valencia were more auxiliary wing backs than support for a lonesome Robin Van Persie.

Shakhtar remained equally as cautious in the first half. The tricky Costa and Luiz Adriano each did well to dispossess Fellaini a couple of times deep in the Donetsk half, allowing the home side to break forward unimpeded. Rafael da Silva could barely cope with Costa and he found Adriano, whose low cross teased its way across De Gea’s six-yard box but found nobody, a handful also. Then United got a moment of maximum luck when Cleverley clearly caught Alex Teixeira late inside the penalty area. Fortunately, the referee, Pavel Kralovec, dismissed Shakhtar’s appeals for a spot kick.

70245734 70245537 Davieball At the DonbassCleverley created United’s first chance of the match when he chipped a high pass over Shakhtar’s central defence for Van Persie. The Dutchman shifted to his right and unleashed a trademark shot with his left, only to see the ball rise over Andriy Pyatov’s crossbar. Fellaini had problems keeping possession early on, but his presence began to tell later in the match as, playing with his back to the opposition goal, the Belgian warrior wore them down with his tackling and ability to fill in midfield holes. He may indeed not look like 30 million quid, but, once he gets used to his teammates, his kind of obstinate, albeit often awkward, determination is going to be a major factor in breaking down opponents late.

Eighteen minutes into the first half, Rafael’s throw-in found Fellaini, who muscled away his marker, crossing low to the near post where Shakhtar’s big awkward center-back Yaroslav Rakitskiy lost his footing. Welbeck then managed to slip inside unmarked and softly flick home Fellaini’s delivery beyond Pyatov into the far corner of the net. The loud Donbass Arena fell silent, except, of course, for the freezing United fans up high in the cheap seats.

The Ukrainians enjoyed the majority of possession without ever giving De Gea much trouble. Fellaini and Vidic both went into the referee’s book in rapid succession for professional fouls on Taison and Costa respectively, both fouls presenting Shakhtar’s captain, Dario Srna, with direct free-kick opportunities from 25 yards out. One that he smashed into United’s wall, another which was wasted. Fellaini was withdrawn shortly afterwards and his replacement, Ryan Giggs, playing in the 145th game in the Champions League surpassed Raul’s record number of appearances in the competition. The big-hearted Donbass crowd, in spite of their team loyalty, stood up and gave Giggsy a long round of passionate applause.

United held fast with nine men behind the ball and really looked like they might pull off a famous away victory until the 75th minute when the Shakhtar’s big central defender Rakitskiy, out to make up for his crucial early mistake, strode down the left flank and fired a cross into the heart of United’s box. Vidic managed to block it, but it got away from him, bouncing to Taison who beat De Gea with an unblockable rocket into the roof of the net from 12 yards out. Six minutes later, Taison almost scored again with a deflected shot off Smalling but De Gea reacted brilliantly, tipping it over the bar.

When the whistle blew, the relief on David Moyes’ ruddy face was there for everybody to see. A good, albeit not great, evening’s work.Shakhtar Donetsk v Manche 011 Davieball At the Donbass

Sloppy in Sweden

 Posted by on August 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Manchester United
Aug 082013

AIK 1-1 Manchester United
1071027 17095790 640 360 Sloppy in SwedenForgive your old mum, but she’s right when she says this is not your father’s Manchester United. This is a different one! With all the gossip before the match focused on an ‘injured’ Wayne Rooney and the capricious flirtations of Cesc Fabregas, the match seemed to be barely an afterthought, which was a shame because the stadium was packed with Swedish United fans in their red devil regalia. United weren’t altogether bad, per sé, but their collective disorganization against a far less talented but tactically savvy AIK team already well into their season, did not lift the heart. With so many coaching changes, yet so few alterations in the basic playing squad, the pressure to succeed often and early in a season which begins with matches against their big rivals Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City piled up early, fans are very very nervous.? What they saw from Sweden was not comforting.

When the game finally started, it was played at a surprisingly frenetic tempo with both sides keen to exploit the flanks and AIK’s wingers particularly focused on exploiting Patrice Evra’s aging legs and lack of mobility. Their Kenyan workhorse, Martin Kayongo-Mutumba, repeatedly switched flanks and gave both Evra and his partner Rafael a terribly torrid time. Ironically, United were using the same tactics and Nani–the subject of thousands of transfer rumors these days–was at his sharpest. Dribbling hither and thither and more aggressive than he’s been in years, the Cape Verdean tortured his markers also and was the first to create a chance as he found Wilfried Zaha inside the box. Unfortunately, the nervous new boy blasted his shot way wide of the goal.

A hungry Robin Van Persie then came close, zipping in off the right flank after being found by Rafael, but chipped a low shot inches wide of the post. Another beautiful run by Nani then set up a speeding Van Persie, but his left-footed shot was brilliantly saved by a flying Kenny Stamatopoulos. Then, with the game going end to end, it was United’s keeper, Anders Lindegaard’s chance to make a spectacular save as the bothersome Martin Kayongo-Mutumba did good work to pick up a long clearance from his goalie before firing a vicious corkscrew of a shot which the Danish custodian had to stretch his full body to stop. In turn, Lindergaard’s long clearance was then carried into the box by Evra, who passed neatly to a lone Van Persie who fluffed a simple chance by hitting it off his laces.

AIK v Manchester United Robin van Persie 2983432 Sloppy in SwedenAs the first half came to a close, United’s midfield triumvirate of Anderson, Carrick and Giggs seemed to lose their energy. And when a sloppy Giggs allowed Kennedy Igboananike, to steal the ball off his toe and make a fine, jinky run into their penalty area, United’s back four looked slow and exceedingly weak. Luckily, with Lindegaard advancing to block him and with all the time in the world to score, Mutumba blasted the ball way wide. Indeed, AIK carried their aggression into the second half and took a shocking lead out of nowhere as Robin Quasion swiveled around from twenty yards out and let loose a stunning howitzer of a shot which left United’s substitute goalie Ben Amos stranded before hurtling into the net.

At this point, United woke up from their nap. The goal appeared to snap United into action and they responded almost immediately when Vidic rose to meet a clever Giggs corner. missed scoring by just a whisper as Vidic rose to head home. His powerful header bounced on the six yard line before ricocheting back into the upright and over the crossbar. Then after, Davie Moyes brought on three different substitutes, United tied the match up as a Zaha pass across the face of goal was forced home by a sliding Angel Henriquez. And minutes later, the Chilean wunderkind almost scored his second as, all set up by Robin Van Persie, he tried to switch feet before shooting and got his footwork mixed-up before flubbing a weak shot.

Ultimately, despite seizing the initiative, United’s late pressure game could not produce the expected winner as substitute Danny Welbeck botched a simple toe prod past sub goalie Patrik Carlgren and Persie overdid a simple header from six yards out that went over the AIK bar.

Thus far toothless up front and exceedingly lead-footed at the back, United’s brain trust of Phil Neville and Steve Round behind David Moyes has its work genuinely cut out. Losing Jonny Evans and Nani to injury during this game was not useful, especially as Nani looked like a player who has finally decided to put aside his predilections for cynicism and selfishness. There’s never been any doubt about his talent, but, on the night, he genuinely looked like a committed member of the team who does not want to ply his trade elsewhere. An injured Jonny Evans means more playing time for Chris Smalling and Phil Jones next to Rio and Nemanja. With money clearly not available to buy Ezequiel Garay, these two need to turn it up a notch or two if they wish to remain at the club.AIK v Manchester United Anderson 2983434 Sloppy in Sweden

May 222013

West Bromwich Albion 5-5 Manchester United
Jenkins Arsenal West Brom 004 A Crazy Goodbye At the Hawthorns!It wasn’t so much a Premier League football match as a circus. Before it began West Brom and Manchester United formed a guard of honor for the legendary Gaffer of Gaffers, Sir Alex Ferguson, as he beamed and bowed to all and sundry before kickoff. Yet by the time he tried in vain to scurry away from the pitch, close to two hours later, his face was like a traffic light. Boxed in by a scrum of journos and security personnel, there was an almost soporific expression of feigned relief on his sharp, old ruddy Celt face. How he psyched himself into giving the crowd a cheeky wink and a smile along with a final wave is beyond this witness. I doubt if he saw a white light at the end of the Hawthorns’ tunnel, but having lasted over 1500 United games, this last goofy, testimonial-style kick about must have almost blown his mind. Even for Him, the grand ringmaster, the last of his redundant kind in the neo-corporate world of professional football, this last bow must have seemed like waking up in the midst of a Fellini movie. When Ferguson took a warmly-received bow before kickoff, he exuded an aura of sublime majesty and paterfamilias. What followed was bound to be anticlimactic

Mostly disinterested at the beginning of the game, the Baggies were like a brood of wealthy kids invited to their über, hip big, brother’s birthday party. There, but only barely so, hoping for cake and watching United run around, they might as well have been in the crowd. United went ahead after six minutes as the all-action Shinji Kagawa nodded home a Hernández cross after he was the recipient of an exquisite diagonal seeing-eye pass from Alex Büttner. Three minutes on, they had a second goal as a panicked Jonas Olsson mistakenly diverted a dipping Valencia pass past United’s old mistake-prone goalkeeper, Ben Foster. What might have been going on in the head of Foster is interesting to conjecture upon because of the utter disaster which happened to United’s reserve goalie Anders Lindergaard in the second half. A custodian’s life, it seems, is a lonely one!

Excited by the first two goals, the old Scot barely reacted at all to marauding left back Alex Büttner’s 30th-minute Bangalore-style rocket of a goal from an obtuse angle after some fine setup work by Chicharito and Tom Cleverley. But then, three up, United collectively went to sleep. You can get a lot done in fifteen minutes or, conversely, not done at all. It was as if Carrick, Cleverley, Anderson, et al, decided to take a couple of conference calls to deal with their brokers and make Summer vacation plans before facing the old man in the dressing room for the last time. Consequently, the Baggies reduced the deficit before half-time after a fine shimmying run saw James Morrison ease past a casual Phil Jones before sort of accidentally/on purpose steering home a shot that looked like a cross from the right.

For the second half, however, Albion’s dour coach, Stevie Clarke, did what he should have done earlier, bring on Romelo Lukaku to play his last game in Brum as a loanee. Jonny Evans–the supposed Derry Hard Man–was true to form up against Lukaku as he is when the opponent is Kenwyne Jones, Carlton Cole, Marlon Harewood, Nile Ranger or Shola Ameobi. The Gaffer’s sentimental second-favorite after Darren Fletcher, Evans can do no wrong in Fergie’s eyes and so became, once again, completely persona non grata on the pitch. The reason Ferguson allowed Gerard Pique return to Barcelona, Evans ought to have acknowledged his own limitations, walked away and sat down next to Nemanja Vidic on the bench Instead, it only took five minutes for Evans to be reduced to a wreck, backing off on an advancing Lukaku until he was blocking off the sight-line of Lindegaard and it was child’s play for the Belgian-born Congolese striker to fire casually home.

Yet United were still totally, casually in control as both Robin van Persie and Hernández squandered sitters from six yards out. And Hernandez was set up for yet another goal by Giggs after a sweet jinking run through the Baggies’ keystone kops defense. Yet Chicharito deferred to the retiring Paul Scholes, whose timing was at least two seconds off as he stumbled and shinned the ball softly to Foster. Scholes then had a little bit of the kind of fun we expect of him when he unleashed a copyright Ginger Prince-style late tackle on Claudio Yacob. Still, there was relief on the horizon as Robin van Persie scored his 26th league goal of the campaign, after a slide-rule cross by Valencia to make it 4-2. And it to all be over in the 63rd minute when the tireless Hernandez added a fifth, cleverly steering home a Ryan Giggs cross.

It was then that United got sincerely rattled as Lukaku picked up a long ball from Malumbu and headed at speed toward Evans. While Jones and Lindegaard screamed at Evans to retreat no more, the ball was already soaring into a shuddering net. And then with a poker-faced Ferguson fuming from the bench, Mulumbu played a nice double one-two with Billy Jones. before firing home in the 81st minute to make it 5-4.

Too little too late as, for his last act as a manager ever, the dark Lord Ferg brought on Rio Ferdinand for Evans. Yet by now, Lukaku was burning hot and ratcheting up what was by now every United fan’s fear. Undeniable, Lukaku grabbed his hat-trick, his seventeenth goal of the season, completing his hat-trick after muscling his way through Jones and Ferdinand during a goal mouth scramble four minutes from time. Indeed, instead of bemoaning United’s porous defense., my instincts cried out that, if Wayne Ronny wants to leave so badly for Chelsea, that this Lukaku kid thrown into a partial swap deal along with Ramires and a healthy chunk of Abramovich cash.

At any rate, despite this crazy draw at The Hawthorns, United finished their season eleven points ahead of Premier League runners-up Manchester City. Unbelievably, it has been a total of 10,000 days since Alex Ferguson’s first match as the manager of Manchester United, a 2-0 defeat against Oxford United. Winning a championship in his final season will go a long way toward comforting him for failing to pick up a third European Champions club. Nevertheless, the Gaffer and the Ginger Prince will always be missed. I even salute Michael Owen after his much quieter last gasp and retirement at Stoke City. Adieu! Adieu! To you and you and you!
Jenkins Arsenal West Brom 007 A Crazy Goodbye At the Hawthorns!

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!

Mar 042013

sir alex mourinho Manchester United Real Madrid Pre Match Interviews

Videos before the 2nd leg match between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford.

Ferguson – Ronaldo will cause problems by PressAssociation

Ryan Giggs set to reach landmark figure by PressAssociation

Mourinho hypes Manchester-Madrid clash by PressAssociation

Alonso talks Ronaldo hype by PressAssociation


 Posted by on February 25, 2013 at 10:24 am  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers
Feb 252013

Queens Park Rangers  0 -2  Manchester United
66038217 66038213 Mr.999

It wasn’t a great win, but after scoring two absolutely spectacular goals, Manchester United maintained their twelve point cushion at the top of the Premier League. While making his 999th senior appearance for  Manchester United, Ryan Giggs guaranteed a victory for the Red Devils after Rafael Da Silva’s  spectacular 20-yard strike had given the visitors a first-half lead. But with ten minutes left to go, with United looking collectively tired and slightly the worse for wear and tear, with Sir Alex Ferguson pacing nervously on the edge of the touchline,  Giggs was played onside by Clint Hill, allowing him to run onto a Nani pass, cut hard left into an obtuse angle and then fire a brilliant chip over an advancing  Júlio César. Brilliant for the full 90 minutes, Giggs, on the cusp of 40-years-old, made it seem all too easy  over a team that just didn’t own the quality to mount even the barest challenge against United’s  solid, relaxed back defensive line.

Giggs, who is the most perfect example of professionalism in the sport, led the way, but much credit is due to the ever-improving Rafael Da Silva. His 23rd minute volley–exquisitely executed with both of his little feet off the ground–came off a superb Julio Cesár save of a Robin Van Persie pile-driver. It was a spectacular goal and reminded this decrepit old fart of the good old days of Bobby Charlton when fans made the error of taking them for granted.  We-ell, happy days are here again! Thus, on a dream night at Loftus Road, while his twin brother, Fabio, on loan at Rangers, watched from the bench,  the tough, sturdy young Brazilian right back mastered Jamie Mackie, a winger who has previously given him much difficulty and made a spectacular effort to clear  a Chris Samba header off the goal line. With Rafael so dominant, Harry Redknapp attempted to confuse the issue by interchanging  his wingers Mackey and counterpart Andros Townsend, but neither one was fully effective, even against United’s weakest link. the aging left back Patrice Evra

Bottom of the league QPR had difficulty keeping the ball and building up any kind of tempo throughout. Completely dependent on the leadership and industry of the taleted-but-erratic Adel Taraabt, Rangers simply offered no bite. Indeed, the only time David De Gea was truly challenged in the match was in the 78th minute when the Spanish custodian saved a  Loic Remy pile-driver. Both Danny Welbeck and substitute Wayne Rooney, back from a severe sinus infection,  came close  to making it  a much more substantial victory late on, but each missed narrowly.  Indeed. Welbeck, who missed a series of sitters, was once again a conundrum wrapped in a gob-smacking conundrum.

Now anchored seven points from safety, Harry Redknapp’s Queen’s Park Rangers look to be truly in need of some mode of divine intervention. Meanwhile, Manchester City, who beat an almost equally abject Chelsea on Sunday at the El-Etihad, still need some magic of their own to catch United with just 12 games remaining. United’s only blip of discontent  could come as a result of its talismanic striker, Robin Van Persie, being injured after accidentally sliding into a T.V. camera pit and injuring his hip. Will he be fit to play at home in the E.C.C. against Real Madrid? Fingers crossed!!!
Manchester Uniteds Rafael 006 Mr.999


United Thoroughly Dominate Everton!

 Posted by on February 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm  England, EPL, Everton, Manchester United
Feb 122013

Manchester United 2-0 Everton
65810959 65810957 1 United Thoroughly Dominate Everton!“I can sometimes be a slow learner,” Sir Alex Ferguson said in a rare interview with the BBC broadcast on Thursday. It was an interesting comment, not so much because it showed the old warrior’s unique mode of integrity or the hurt he feels at only having won only two European Champions’ Leagues. The utter humiliations of last season’s second-place finish to Manchester City accompanied by a 6-2 home loss to the Abu Dhabian sky-blue rent boys genuinely left a scar. United have a 12-point advantage with just 12 games to go, but last season’s choke at the very death of the season seems to have genuinely pushed Britain’s greatest veteran manager to reassess his status and methodology as a coach. The loss at Old Trafford to City was painful, but, worse, in its own way, was a humbling draw at home to Everton after his team had been leading 4-2 going into the last five minutes of the match before finishing 4-4. That game and a nightmare first fixture this season at Goodison Park in which the Toffees were allowed to bully and intimidate a passive, mentally detached United team still slowly awakening from a Summer of sloth. Even the most vocal pro-United pundits, like The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor began pushing the panic button early this season.

Well, it has taken awhile, and United have been far from brilliant all season, but on Sunday night Everton were comfortably dominated and defeated by a team playing like a team. The cliché may indeed be that there is no ‘I’ in team, but United were well and truly kept on a tight leash by their boss. And for those expecting something sloppy and lackadaisical after last week’s shoddy victory over Southampton, it was no such thing. With Phil Jones given the single, urgent errand of marking the awkward, troublesome Marouane Fellaini, Everton’s star performer never got into the game. Indeed, the Moroccan midfielder was so frustrated that he was hacking down any United player in his vicinity and more than a little fortunate not to see red from the referee Mark Halsey. Forced to drop deep to see any of the ball, he was not a factor in the game at all.

Meanwhile, playing out of his skin, the awesome 39-years-young Ryan Giggs ended up scoring for the 23rd season in a row. A thorn in Everton’s side all day, the wise Welsh wizard was, like Wayne Rooney, all over the field throughout proceedings. Taken along with Manchester City’s defeat at Southampton, United did not look like a team capable of self-destructing and losing their twelve point cushion at the top of the Premier League. And although many fans are praying  for United to self-destruct once again, no such thing is going to happen.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Dav 005 1 United Thoroughly Dominate Everton!United dominated from the very beginning. and the Toffees were never even close to finding their rhythm when their usually foolproof offside trap went awry only ten minutes in as Phil Neville went after a hard-running Wayne Rooney a second too early, which allowed Robin Van Persie the time to round Tim Howard and stare at an open goal before forcing a massive collective ‘Ooooh!’ out of the crowd by shooting awkwardly with his weaker right foot and hitting the outside of the post. But, only three minutes later , John Heitinga, only playing because of a late injury to Sylvain Distin, failed to stop a header from Valencia after a superbly passed set-up by Rafael Da Silva. The ball fell to Van Persie who tapped it sideways to an unmarked Ryan Giggs who rolled the ball in off the post with a neat poke from his right toe.

Still, even though they were severely blunted without the bustle of Fellaini up front, Everton were still a threat and both Leon Osman and Kevin Miralles forced yeoman defensive work out of David De Gea and Nemanja Vidic. Then, right on the stroke of half-time, United beat Everton’s offside trap once again as a beautiful seeing-eye pass, again from Rafael beat Neville, found Van Persie and the ruthless striker rounded Tim Howard again, making no mistake this time, firing home despite a desperate diving move from Heitinga to block it.
United held on to their lead well in the second half, playing a superb game of reactive football throughout. and both goalkeepers made a series of splendid saves throughout. Instead of worrying about Real Madrid on Wednesday I am relishing the prospect of a football feast. Now that they are playing their best football in two seasons, United are clearly about as ready for this fixture as it;’s possible for them to be.

As Everton’s manager David Moyes put it after the match. “It’s only our fourth league defeat this season and I would say it is the only game where a better team has beaten us.“Ryan Giggs scores the fir 008 United Thoroughly Dominate Everton!

Jan 292013

Manchester United 4-1 Fulham
Manchester Utd v Fulham 008 United Ease Past A Blasé Fulham!Funny club, Fulham. United have statues of the trinity, Busby and you-know-who outside Old Trafford. Fulham have a dreadful one of Johnny Haines and a gigantic thing remembering Michael Jackson, who is famous for many reasons, none of which have anything at all to do with football. Having flogged their two best performers, Moussa Dembelé and Clint Dempsey, for a healthy profit to Spurs, their manager Martin Jol picked up United’s sad-sack, capricious pseudo-striker Dimitar Berbatov, one of the rare expensive toys the Gaffer chose to toss out of his pram on the cheap. Beggars can’t be choosers, even if your owner is Muhammad Al-Fayed, when your London next-door-neighbor is Roman Abramovich’s oil cash Laundromat at Stamford Bridge . Hope springs eternal, whether you’re the manager or a Cottagers fan, but Jol’s claim at his Friday night press conference that Berbatov was “in the state of mind for one of his hat-tricks” was up there in the fantasy betting stakes of Google  locating  and mapping Shangri-La and Utopia.

It took but 45 or so seconds for  Berbatov’s face to take on that familiar 5,000 kilometer stare we’re all so familiar with as a probing Rooney shot caused instantaneous panic in Fulham’s back line and was deflected for a corner. Wazza’s corner led to Aaron Hughes getting all in a dither as Chris Smalling rose with him for the ball, needlessly raising a hand to divert the ball. Referee Mark Clattenburg wasted no time pointing to the spot. With Rooney still in the Gaffer’s dog house for an accumulation of missed penalties, it was left to the grizzled old Welsh wizard Ryan Giggs to calmly step up and slot the ball home.

Then, 21 minutes in, Giggs had a second penalty chance disallowed as Damian Duff took a chance in sticking an arm out  when another one of his  passes caught Flham’s whole defense flat-footed.  Referee Mark Clattenburg, long up there in the F.A.’s refereeing pantheon of caprice with Howard Webb and Phil Dowd decided to let this one go. Yet, Clattenburg’s decison proved to be of no no consequence. Bad then turned to worse for Fulham. Their abject state of disarray lingered. Bryan Ruiz made a series of bad passes, two of which were intercepted by Giggs. Attempts to feed Berbatov were not so much badly executed, as, having been aimed about fifteen feet in front of the Bulgar prima-donna, invitations for the shiftless genius to run, which was never going to happen. Consequently, after other passes from the likes of Sidwell and Duff failed to land on his toe, Berbatov began to spend more onfield time bawling out his teammates in frustration than running..

Yet before United truly  began to dismantle Fulham with a surgical grace, in the second half, the Cottagers managed to hold on to their luck. Anderson and Giggs came close twice and three fantastic saves by Schwartzer from Rooney and Nani kept them in the game. The Cottagers ran out of lucky breaks once the second half began, however.

First, an exquisitely hit Anderson pass found Rooney just inside the box and the Scouser had no problem blasting it past a marooned Mark Schwartzer. Minutes on, Rooney turned schemer. After executing a lovely little step-over and foot switch that Ronaldo would have been proud of, Rooney passed to Nani.. Nani missed his shot on goal, but the rebound bounced back to Rooney off Schwartzer. This time, Rooney fed a short pass to Hernandez, who tapped home the third.

Minutes later, the cheeky Chicharito got his second of the day, as the hapless Aaron Hughes let a Giggs cross bounce off his knee, missed making a clearance, and watched in horror as Schwartzer, already committed to moving in the wrong direction, had no way to stop the Mexican striker’s nicely executed tap-in of a fourth.

Fulham did pull a goal back, as a sloppy United defense allowed itself to become lax again and an unmarked Hughes headed in a corner from winger substitute Giorgos Karagounis’s  with 15 minutes to go. And although they did not oppose United with much passion, Fulham may not really be quite as bad as they often looked. After all, on the day, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney looked good enough to take on any opponent. Fulham are clearly not Real Madrid and neither will be Reading, who they face at home in the Sixth Round. Still, if United hope to have a chance against the Spanish champions, they will need Sunday’s Rooney and a far less lax back four.
65531280 manutd afp United Ease Past A Blasé Fulham!

Rooney’s Rough Return

 Posted by on January 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm  England, F.A. Cup
Jan 182013

Manchester United 1 -0 West Ham United
65336426 rooney afp1 1 Rooney’s Rough ReturnFootball is funny game. Rife with ironies and sometimes implausible behavior from many of it’s millionaire performers. Who would have gone out on a bitterly cold Wednesday night in Salford if they’d have known they’d get fifteen minutes of superb, speedy hell-for-leather football followed by 78 minutes of utter drudgery? Still, it was surely nice for Sir Alex Ferguson to win get a second clean sheet in a row. Kudos for United’s back four, especially as they have been the subject of so much scorn and derision this season, especially when Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have been missing in action. United’s back four–Rafael, Büttner, Jones and Smalling–got a little awkward and panicky every now and again, but acquitted themselves more or less well.

It was a particularly strange night for Wayne Rooney. Having recently suffered a knee problem and then the terrible loss of his wife’s Colleen’s sickly younger sister, Rose, Wazza did not seem to have his head fully screwed on. His ninth minute goal may have been all United actually needed, but he also skied a 79th minute penalty into the Stretford End. It was Rooney’s fourth penalty miss this season and the Gaffer was visibly apoplectic, still angry enough at the post-match press conference to dwell upon it at length. Still, although Robin Van Persie is the likeliest player to take over penalty-taking duties, the old warrior clearly misses having Dennis Irwin oe even Ruud Van Nistelrooy to rely upon. My Aunty Joan has already sent her email messages out to the appropriate authorities insisting that Anderson be given the dirty job. It’s actually a good idea, if the lad is fit enough to play.

The Red Devils were dead jammy for certain, although West Ham threatened a lot in the second half, but always seemed too anemic up front and even Rooney’s spot-kick miss went for naught. With a fourth round cup tie looming against Fulham, even a striker as shiftless and stupor-bound as the one-and-only Dimitar Berbatov will surely be yearning to show something special to his old colleagues. Never in my memory have United been the beneficiaries of both pure luck and equally dreadful defenses throughout their division. A quick holiday frolic in bankrupt Spain might be nice, but, if the Gaffer can’t get his boys a dose of sunshine, Mike Phelan standing by with some oxygen and a mask might have to suffice.

Rooney’s ninth goal of the season came in the ninth minute as Anderson, yet another player back from injury, fired a perfect left-footed seeing-eye laser pass, splitting the complete Hammers defense as if it were a rotten apple. Perfectly placed to Javíer Hernandez, the ball was hoovered up by the Mexican striker. Caught at a questionable angle, Chicharito took one deft touch before tapping the ball into the six yard box where Rooney hared in, sliding forward at exactly the perfect moment to push the ball home off his studs past goalkeeper Jussi Jaskalainen.

United sparkled for another five minutes or so, but then the blown bubbles West Ham fans like to sing about abandoned the champagne. West Ham were utterly lackluster and poor Anders Lindegaard, back after more than two months on the sidelines, had nothing to do whatsoever between the sticks. Although United were definitely the dominant force on the pitch, only Nani truly came close to scoring when West Ham’s newly-blooded right back, Daniel Potts, blocked a beautiful rocket from Nani. after it beat Jaskalainen. The Finnish goalkeeper did do a little better just before the whistle, however,when he made a clean save of another Rooney pile driver.

Just how bad the second half was going to be became obvious almost instantaneously. When Chicharito stole the ball from Alou Diarra in the middle of the box, all he had to do was tap it past Jaskalainen. Instead he blasted a sitter over the bar.

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce’s relentless caterwauling from the sidelines started to take effect at around the hour mark. Like a man waking from a coma, Ricardo Vaz Té, for four seasons the greatest thing that almost happened at both Bolton Wanderers and West Ham, started to dribble like the proximity of the Welsh wizard, Ryan Giggs, was a call to magic. And with both Alexander Büttner and Rafael Da Silva trying to shore up the mediocre runs into empty space on the flanks by a mediocre Nani and a distracted-looking Antonio Valencía, the Portuguese forward was free as a hummingbird to flit and flicker about. None of it came to much, although a loose ball he failed to control around eight yards out accidentally touched the arm of Rafael Da Silva. It surely gave the crowd a scare and had Allardyce close to an apoplectic fit, but it was never on for the referee Phil Dowd to call it a deliberate handball. Minutes later, when Phil Jones botched a pass, an advancing Matt Taylor scooped it up but failed to pass to a lonely Carlton Cole as he waited in vain, unmarked at the far post.

Rooney then made a bollix royale of a penalty United were extremely fortunate to receive when a clumsy Jordan Spence handled a Ryan Giggs cross. Subsequently, Rooney botched his task, but, in all my years of observing Ferguson going about his business, I have never before seen him react with such unfiltered anger at one of his own players as in that moment. At any rate, despite United seeming to be collectively tired out and bereft of all ideas, Ferguson did not succumb to what must have been temptation to bring on Robin Van Persie to sharpen his attack and West Ham just did not seem to own the will or moxy to press the Red Devils’.

Clearly, every game from now on is an important one if United hope to stand any chance of winning a fantasy treble. Getting some get back against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane is a tall order, but not impossible. Sussing Wayne Rooney’s state of mind before this big big game will be a challenge for the fiery old Scot.Manchester United v Liverpool Robin van Persi 2885345 11 Rooney’s Rough Return