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Nov 022012

“I hate to lose more than I love to win.”———-Jimmy Connors

224075hp2 The Kids Are All Right!

“When he was good…”

Chelsea 5 -4 Manchester United
Wednesday night I needed oxygen and cold shots. It’s been a wild wild week thus far and there’s still Saturday’s match against the Arse coming up! Now let me see. Thus far. Two brilliant games against the royal blues of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The one we ought to have lost, we won because of bad officiating and a lot of luck. The one we definitely deserved to win we lost because of mistakes made out of simple exhaustion and a complex act of stupidity by a single hubris-ridden player. Either way, both were brilliant, breathtaking spectaculars which showcased the beautiful game at its spectacular best and mediocre worst.

Having thrown all their expensive toys out of their gold-plated perambulator on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday accompanied by much rhetorical hysteria about racist corrupt referees, Chelsea did not care too much about the refereeing that went against Manchester United’s favour on the part of Lee Mason on Wednesday. To their credit, Chelsea were brave, worthy warrior opponents, behind three times, stumbling into extra time with the gracious gift from United of a 94th-minute penalty before, finally, nicking a spot in the Carling Cup quarterfinals by the odd goal out of nine.

In all fairness to the referee, Lee Mason was under a microscope from the get-go. He yellow-carded nine players and Eden Hazard’s penalty spared him what was clearly going to be a vicious post-mortem after, minutes before, a Juan Mata pass clearly hit Michael Keane, United’s 19-year-old center half, on his arm. Worse than the pressure on Mason was the stress piled upon Keane and his partner, Scott Wootton, 21, which saw each deteriorate out of a state of sheer exhaustion as the game passed into extra time. Nevertheless, despite what most of the pundits and bloggers have to say about how Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to play two raw and inexperienced center-halves killed the team, they both acquitted themselves respectably until their tired bodies gave out. Wootton, 21, gave away the penalty Hazard converted when he tripped over Ramires in his own box in the 94th minute. The same player then gave Sturridge the chance to put Chelsea ahead for the first time when he failed to get enough on his header back to the goalkeeper, Anders Lindegaard. These are the cruel facts. I, for one, have been hollering for the Gaffer to play the kids repeatedly simply because both Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand are clearly both mentally and physically exhausted. Nevertheless, over the whole of a physical no-quarter type duel of the titans, Wootton and Keane played well.

Football is a cruel game. All things considered, Chelsea did not ‘deserve’ to win, just as United had not ‘deserved’ to win in the P.L. on Sunday. In both matches both teams were achingly guilty of dreadful defending. What made the difference this time, in spite of Mr. Mason, was the fine art of substitution practiced by Roberto Di Matteo. Clearly, the Chelsea manager, who, by bringing on his three marquee midfield players, Hazard, Ramires and Oscar, has affected their fitness levels for this coming weekend’s match against. Swansea City. It was a throw of the dice, to be sure, but Chelsea’s psychological need for a victory far outweighed the Gaffer’s need to keep his best squaddies fit for Saturday’s Arsenal visit.

Things went well for both sides as they cautiously probed at each other early on. Then, 22 minutes in, goalie Petr Cech stumbled as he made a short goal kick to Oriol Romeu. The Romanian expatriate out of the Barcelona academy panicked, lost the ball to Anderson and stood frozen as Giggs picked up the ball and casually fired home to make it 1-0.

Eight minutes later, the game was back on a knife-edge again as David Luíz’s penalty barely beat Anders Lindegaard who guessed right but was a second too late after rookie left back Alexander Büttner’s ill-advised tripping of a fast driving Victor Moses. This was a sad mistake on the young Dutch left back’s part because Moses was barely in control of the ball and most likely would not have scored. For the rest of the half the game went entertainingly back and forth until two minutes before half time. Why David Luiz decided to start a dribble out of his own box no one knows. At any rate, Rafael was there to pick his pocket and chip to Anderson. Ando, playing his best game since the 8-2 humiliation of Arsenal at Old Trafford a year ago, put in an exquisite pass to the spring-heeled Javíer Hernandez who fired home on the diagonal to make it 2-1.

After an excellent first half, both managers must have ranted up a dressing room storm about defensive lapses, but with so many youth players representing their clubs, sloppiness was surely to be expected. Chelsea brought on Ramires and Hazard at the break and Ferguson could clearly see that Di Matteo was in it to win it. Making a rare appearance, Daniel Sturridge missed three beautiful chances before a fantastic Juan Mata corner found Gary Cahill in the 52nd minute. Rafael was there behind the line inside the goal mouth to head it away, but Mason had no doubt that the ball crossed the goal line and the game was tied again.

Chelsea dominated for the next few minutes but then United struck again. Wing substitute Nani slipped inside, dummied two defenders, did quick give-and-goes to Hernandez and Anderson, before getting the ball back and chipping over a diving Cech. It was a beautiful goal and reminded fans as to just how good the Cape Verdean can be.

Now with Büttner much troubled by Hazard, Ferguson took him out, moved Darren Fletcher to right back and Rafael to the left flank. This was when things began to fall apart. With Fletcher still not fully fit and Wootton and Keane often unsure of their positioning, Rafael tried too hard to be everywhere. As the clock ticked down all Manchester United had to do was hold the ball. Why Nani chose to act cocky against the Belgian flash Eden Hazard is beyond all common sense. Hazard stripped Nani clean and took off before feeding Ramires. A goal bound Ramires was then clearly tripped up by a desperate Scott Wootton and Hazard fired home the penalty to tie it 3-3 and drag the game into extra time.

Exhausted now and worn to a frazzle, neither side seemed to pay much mind to defense. And eight minutes in, Sturridge, who had squandered at least a half-dozed gilt-edged opportunities, took advantage of a soft, patty-cake header from a stumbling Wootton, casually walking the ball around Lindegaard to give Chelsea their first lead. of the match at 5-3. Hazard then set up Ramires with another lightning run to make it 5-3.

Seconds later Giggs made it 5-4 . It was yet another another penalty after Chicharito was brought down by César Azpilicueta. With seconds to go, Sturridge clearly tripped Giggs off the ball as he sprinted in the box in a run that defied his looming 39th year and 121 minutes. The referee Lee Mason and his crew clearly missed it, but it’s fair to say that everyone was running on empty at this point.

I shall refrain from talking about Mark Clattenburg and the first game from now on until all the facts are in. As I write, Sir Alex Ferguson has been angrily savaging Nani for his act of selfishness in losing the ball to Eden Hazard in the 94th minutes with, literally, fractions of a second left on the referee’s watch. Such public vilification of one of his own players is rare for the wily old Scot. Despite scoring rather a tasty goal, Nani, as in a crucial losing game against Liverpool three seasons back, went AWOL at the wrong moment. It’s a cliché to say “ There’s no ‘I’ in team!” but Nani has crossed the line one time too many this time. Let’s hope we don’t sell him too cheaply!

155063325 The Kids Are All Right!

“Oh Nani! Nani! Nani!”

Jun 292012
 Beckham Too English for Great Britains Olympic Team

He carried the torch, both literally and figuratively, for the Olympic games in London. But David Beckham will not be lacing up his boots for Team Great Britain in this summer’s games.

Left off the tournament’s 18-man roster by manager Stuart Pearce, Beckham learned Thursday that his dream to take part in an Olympic games on his native soil is over. Issuing a statement to the media, Beckham was justifiably disappointed:

“Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me, so I would have been honored to have been part of this unique Team GB squad. Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.”

Essentially a glorified U-23 tournament, the soccer portion of the Olympics games has allowed each team three overage players since the 1992 games. In Beckham’s place, Pearce selected Manchester City’s Micah Richards, Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs and Liverpool’s Craig Bellamy.

While Beckham is distraught about not getting the call after doing so much for England by way of the national and also as a partner in the bidding process for the 2012 games, what is likely to have caused the most damage to Beckham’s chances was the British Olympic Committee’s insistence on entering a team comprised of all four Home Nations in the 2012 games, something that had not happened since Great Britain failed to qualify for the 1972 games with a 5-0 defeat to Bulgaria and a move originally contested by both the Scottish and Welsh Football Associations.

Which brings us back to Pearce’s overage selections.

Richards, a defender, born in Birmingham, is English. Giggs and Bellamy, well, they are Welsh. And while both have played a majority of their professional careers in England and Wales is considered a part of the United Kingdom, neither would be eligible to play for England if this were a World Cup or even European Championships. And with a majority of the English national team’s best having just competed in Euro2012, Beckham would have been a shoe-in for an all English Olympic team in need of three overage players.

But this isn’t an English squad, it’s Great Britain. And while Beckham championed his hometown, London, by lending his time and celebrity status to help boost their bid to host the Olympics, he has been let down by the his own Olympic association’s decision to enter a team representing all of Great Britain.

For the Galaxy, this may or may not be a good thing. While Beckham will not be playing, he’ll likely still attend many of the ceremonies going on around London for the games. Then again, after being sold out by his own committee for some good PR, would you blame Beckham for not skipping it all.

Knowing how much he loves London and his country, that won’t happen. Beckham will miss a game here or there to travel back to England come August, nothing Galaxy fans aren’t use to by now with the global superstar, but this time you got to feel for the guy. He’s carried on and kept himself going at a high-level with the intentions and good faith he’d be included in the team, and now he’ll only be a part of the games the way he brought them to London: in a suit and as an ambassador of the country.

Beckham deserved more, although maybe Team Great Britain and the British Olympic Committee doesn’t deserve Beckham.

Shut Your Gob, Patrick!

 Posted by on March 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm  Uncategorized
Mar 292012
article 2056891 038526F80000044D 824 468x410 Shut Your Gob, Patrick!
Ah, the good old days! Highbury, 2005.

I love Manchester United like Hermann Goering liked to be fat. I love Manchester United more than a Frenchman loves to surrender. Squeaky-Bum Time is more than a cute catch phrase out of the Gaffer’s mouth to my ears, or for that suave, Italian ex-altar boy to whinge ad nauseam about. While Mancini and Vieira carry on with their embittered venting, we only need to keep winning. United’s fate is in their own hands.

 Vieira and Mancini did get our attention.  As I write, Mancini has just gone off to consult his favorite saint in some village in Bosnia. Although I myself am not religious and have diligently avoided fox holes for a lifetime, their behavior smells suspiciously of the showbiz side of football. Perhaps a reality show for one of Mancini and (that other United-hating coach) Rafa Benitez as they compete for the upcoming jobs at Tottenham, Villa (if they don’t get relegated) and Everton. Meanwhile, while Mancini endeavors to get next to the Lord, Vieira is attempting to backtrack on his comments, putting the old ‘taken out of context’ spin on it.

So, moon faced git that he is,  that once-great midfielder has to earn his keep as Abu Dhabian rent boy or, more politely, as executive advisor to the Manchester City board of directors. Having failed to persuade young Paul Pogba to do a Tevez, Vieira needed something to do beyond calling Mario Balotelli every day at 11 a.m. gently asking him to be a good boy. Having loaded the ipod of everyone in the squad and the reserves, worked out on the elliptical, listened and talked back to  his ‘Learn Arabic in Two Months’ C.D., Pat, as per usual, had nothing to do. And on the telly, nothing but  f*c#+n% Barcelona and a sniveling King Kenny. Then, all of a sudden, up popped the Ginger Prince–the Comeback Kid!

Thus, with things being in the aforesaid Squeaky-Bum-Time flux, Patrick Vieira had to run his mouth. Vieira suggested that United’s decision to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement during the January transfer window smacked of desperation. Desperation? As one who lingered way too long after his gift had gone, like Muhammad Ali and Romario, Vieira knows better than anyone how humiliating it is to observe one’s own  gradual decrepitude taking place. His lingering way way too long at  Inter ought to have sharpened Pat’s appreciation for the effortlessness with which Our Ginger has eased his way back to his best. He ought to be applauding, offering compliments about the way Scholes  is no longer all over the field like he used to be. Cheering abut the way his statistical passing and assist numbers are the highest of his career.

Vieira’s crass claim brought a barbed rebuke of the first order  from Sir Alex Ferguson. Wasn’t  Roberto Mancini  the truly desperate one for selecting Carlos Tevez, a player the City manager emotionally insisted would never appear for the club again? Then the  Gaffer also casually mentioned that he had  “plenty of ammunition” if City wanted to engage in a war of verbal handbags.

Now, based on Vieira’s response on Wednesday morning, his Ferragamo man-purse is being stuffed with that stuff which dribbles out of squeaky bums  when one’s o-ring loosens. Clearly Ferguson’s confession that Michael Carrick “got away with one!” wasn’t good enough for Monsieur Pat. In the wake of referee Michael Oliver’s refusal to give Fulham a last-minute penalty at Old Trafford, Vieira has informed the world that the Red Devils get preferential treatment from officials everywhere..

Yes. “When United play at home they get some advantage that other teams don’t get,” Vieira told BBC Sport. “When you go to United, Madrid, Barcelona, or Milan, it’s always difficult for the referee to go against these kind of teams.”

There’s more than a grain of truth in what he has to say, to be sure. But for those of us who are old enough to remember Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal sides  of the mid-nineties on–love them or hate them–the amount of  protection offered to the likes of Robert Pires, Denis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry by officials who were so clearly compromised by an F.A. which took its orders from David Dein, claiming favoritism reeks of hypocrisy. Did our captain Roy Keane  get away with even a quarter of the mayhem wreaked on opponents by the sneaky Vieira and the rest of his team’s ruthless back line while Poll and company looked away?

The fact id that 38 games in a season, for better or worse, in spite of losing out on a number of petty calls, like the penalty Newcastle were awarded against them earlier this season for a perfectly fair challenge by Rio Ferdinand on Hatem Ben Arfa, in the end, more or less everything evens out and the deserving team wins.

Rio Ferdinand said it best on Twitter. “Why is Viera so concerned with Man Utd….2 comments in a week or so….c’mon maaaaaan let it go!“ 

Meanwhile, although there’s a coup going on in his native Mali and Mario is back in Milano lifting up his skirts for Moratti and Berlusconi, Vieira is desperately seeking some damage control.   “I am very angry with Dan Roan. I feel he has misrepresented me. I made it clear in the interview twice that I wanted to avoid criticising United and even stated that I didn’t watch the United game against Fulham and had not seen the incident to which the reporter referred. That part of the interview was ignored and my comments were taken completely out of context.”

Do yourself a grand favor, Patrick. And shut your gob!

Manchester United 1-0 Fulham 
Stock in trade with Manchester United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson rare allusions to  ‘’Squeaky bum Time’ and  the notion of  his beloved lads as ‘grinders.’ United didn’t play particularly badly today, but they didn’t do so well, either.  A win is a win is a win, however, and Wayne Rooney’s 29th goal of the season  put them at the top of the league, three points ahead of crosstown rivals Manchester City, who were held to a drew at Stoke City. Their opponents, Martin Jol’s Fulham, are certainly capable of playing superior football to the kind of of safety-first drudge they played on this warm Monday night. They were actually quite unlucky not to get a penalty late in the match when Michael Carrick made a desperately late tackle  on Danny Murphy in the penalty area, but, sometimes, on a grinder day, bad luck is all you have.

United attacked pretty relentlessly throughout the first half.  Ashley Young squandered a hat-trick’s worth of sitters and Ryan Giggs was very unlucky  to meet a  gorgeous Rafael cross but head it straight at an alert Mark Schwartzer. United’s weak-tackling, anemic midfield is old news by now, and the passive pairing of Michael Carrick had neither the stomach nor the fortitude to handle the over-the-hill Mohammedou Diarra or his clever ball-handling partner Moussa Dembele who repeatedly set up strker Clint Dempsey. Indeed, Dempsey had a  couple of beautiful strikes on goal  saved by the ever improving David De Gea..

At any rate, with the game  dull and boring and the fans chanting for  Ferguson to bring Chicharito, Rooney brought all 79, 000 fans to life, seizing on a smart. Evans attacked the goal after being allowed too much space in midfield. fired a superb cutback to Rooney who blasted the ball home in the 42nd minute.  United kept up their efforts to cut into Manchester City’s five point goal-average lead, but they hadn’t counted on the determination  of the Cottagers Australian custodian. The superb Schwartzer saved brilliantly three times from Ashley Young and somehow endeavored to cheat Antonio Valencia  as he tried to charge in and chip the clever goalie He and center back, Brede Hangeland–who twice blocked Young and rescued a Giggs shot off the goal line–were life savers for the West London club

United were not so much flat as unlucky in front of goal, but pundits were showing  Carrick tripping  Danny Murphy in the 87th minute as if it were the Zapruder Film to the Warren Commission. To be fair to the referee Mark Olver, substitute Danny Murphy leapt into Carrick’s challenge and made a meal out of his dive.

Fulham are now in thirteenth place and look like their new buys, Dembele and forward Bryan Ruiz in particular have big P.L. years ahead of them .  

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-5 Manchester  UnitedA ruthless Manchester United took a  four point lead over rivals Manchester City while demolishing a poor, overmatched Wolves side at Molyneux.. Having scored five times, United have now reduced their goal difference with City to just three goals. Having won this fixture last year, Wolves were surely full of hope that they could repeat the  score.

Unfortunately, Wolves were simply never in it. Just 21 minutes in,  as Wayne Rooney fired a fine corner to Carrick who controlled the ball, before pushing into the melee in a packed box. Thus it was child’s -play for Johnny Evans to stride into the box and volley the loose ball  home to score his first goal ever for the club.

Meanwhile, the big, hard working Wolverhampton defender Ronald Zubar got a yellow for a hard late tackle on Rooney only seven minutes after the goal , and then, more stupidly,  two minutes later for a blatant  mugging of a quick running  Danny Welbeck. he had his yellow turn to a red card.

With Wolves  trying to maintain a stolid ten-man defense, United were free to ping the ball around the field.  And in the 43rd minute, Antonio Valencia again latched on to a Rooney pass. Electing to go it alone this time, the Ecuadorian  winger slalomed at speed through Wolves’ tired, static defense and fired a low rocket past  goalie Wayne Hennessey. Then, two minutes, later after a beautiful series of  carefully connected   short passes, Danny Welbeck was ready and waiting when a series of connected give-and-goes fed the Manchester-born striker and he slipped it into the net past a helpless  Hennessey..

The spanking went on in the second half as, 56 minutes in,  Javíer ?Hernandez headed home after a fine cross from Rafael left Wolves’ whole back line looking red-faced and embarrassed. hood. Finally, five minutes on, more brilliant work from Valencia set up  Hernandez to slam home them fatal fifth.

When United took their feet off the accelerator  toward the end Wolves tried for a rally, but Michael Kightly and Steven Fletcher were barely able to force a sweat out of United’s keeper David De Gea.

Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Manchester United
In a display of  extreme passivity heretofore unknown in a Manchester United side since  before Matt Busby took charge in 1945, they crashed out of the Europa League, significantly  outclassed by a physically frail but superbly organized and energized Athletic Bilbao team. Exactly like the match a week before at Old Trafford, United showed neither the desire, nor the tactical nous to counter Bilbao’s simple tactic of establishing a high line and pressing United all over the pitch. Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson and his team looked so awed and overwhelmed by the opposition that they  should have suggested swapping shirts at half time and gone  off shopping with their WAGS.

This humiliating second defeat, allied with devastation wreaked by a 6-1 defeat to Manchester City in September, stands as a rebuke to those who insist that United finishing first or second place in the Premiership still  makes for a successful season. The loss to Athletic means that for the first time in ten years United will play in no kind of cup final at all.  Having your head handed to you by the mumbling, eccentric Marcello Bielsa and his team wouldn’t be quite so  unpalatable if they ran a close third in La Liga to Real Madrid and second-place Barcelona. But, really, the Basque club, as charming and entertaining as their ‘pure’ run-and-gun football is, are in seventh place, 33 points behind Los Galacticos.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, Athletic were happy  to pass the ball around and test United’s soft center. Iker Muniain  hit the bar twice and David De Gea  looked like someone who had just  seen his own ghost.  When Fernando Llorente  fired home a perfectly pristine volley  off Fernando Amorebieta’s even more perfect  diagonal pass in the 23rd minute. I applauded.

Deploying a five man midfield was definitely a good idea. Unfortunately for some unfathomable reason, the Gaffer put the clueless Park Ji-sung out there to deal with the threat of  the devastating Oscar De Marcos. A great facilitator in games against teams like Bolton Wanderers and  Schalke which use slow transitions, the Korean lung buster is lost in situations where instinct and intellect come into play. Already  certain as to how easy a pushover Patrice Evra is on the left flank, Athletic kept their diamond moving but with a left side bias so that Park and Evra were repeatedly outrun, caught in possession and then repeatedly left standing.

 In the second half, Ryan Giggs came close with a header a few minutes later, but in the subsequent counterattack Oscar De Marcos executed a Kaka-like give-and-go with himself as he sold a flat-footed Evra a teasing dummy before smashing the ball home.

It was nice when Wayne Rooney scored  with a 25-yarder for his 28th goal of the season, but it was always too little, too late. Is there a lesson to be learned from such
a pummeling?  Not really. Simply put, they were a step above us. A first-class football team. Far better, for now. than our own.

I 8-2 to be an Arsenal Fan

 Posted by on August 30, 2011 at 1:59 am  Uncategorized
Aug 302011
Sunday was supposed to be a big test for the young Manchester United players. They were going to play against Arsenal, and even if they had poor form as of late, you couldn’t just write Arsenal off.
Turns out, It was more challenging for Arsenal than United. The final score said it all and anyone that saw the game can’t deny who the better team was. United even proved they were better than Manchester City, who earlier had beat Tottneham 5-1.
Fergie decided to field the team that played so wonderfully against Tottenham last weekend and to leave his experienced defender on the bench since he just came back from injury. The game started off very fast paced and both teams were giving up the ball quite easily in the opening minutes.
Andrey Arshavin was more the determined to stop any United player that was on the attack and was booked early on in the game for a foul on Phil Jones. In the 21st minute Anderson chipped the ball over the Arsenal defense only for Danny Welbeck to head it in. Although I am very happy we got the goal, you can’t help but notice how weak Arsenal defense looked. Three of their defenders were on Welbeck but no one could prevent him from heading the ball in.
Not long after Jonny Evans committed a foul in the box and Arsenal were awarded the penalty. My opinion, it was a great call. Evans should have never had his hands on Walcott especially inside of the box. Thankfully David de Gea dove to the right to save Robin van Persie penalty kick. All the United players swarmed de Gea after the ball went out of play.
A minute or so later United doubled their lead through Ashley Young. He launched a screamer that Szczesny couldn’t even get anywhere near it. Unfortuantely Welbeck time on the field was cut short as he pulled a hamstring during an attack. Its sad to see him get injured when he was having such a great game but was replaced with Chicharito.
Just before halftime, Rooney scored a wonderful freekick from 20-yards out to put United up 3-0 before Walcott scored to pull one back for the gunners as he hit a low ball under de Gea.
The goal did barely anything for gunners because as soon as the second half started they were once again scrambling to defend as United continued to attack furiously. Rooney scored beautiful goal from a free kick once again. Szczesny didn’t even move for this one.
Nani was able to chip it over Szczesny to score United fifth after some help from Rooney. When the substitutions came you could only feel for Arsenal players and Park Ji-Sung and legend Ryan Giggs were brought on. Park was only on for a couple minutes when he score United sixth goal. RVP was able to pull another back for Arsenal but it wasn’t enough to restore any confidence within the team.
Things continued to go down hill for the gunners when Jenkinson received his second yellow for fouling Chicharito when he was on his way to scoring a goal.
Rooney scored his hat trick when Evra was brought down in the box by Walcott. They weren’t exactly done just yet. Young scored another goal in extra time to make it 8.
The average age for both teams was 23 and obviously the better team won. Arsenal fans will of course try to say that because of injuries the team suffered, but we can use that same argument and say we were without our Mighty Captain Vidic, Ferdinand, Valencia, Owen, Rafael, Fabio, Carrick, Fletcher, and Berba. Plus Giggs and Park didn’t even come on till late in the second half and United were already up by a lot.
Sunday marked a special day for all United fans. Along with defeating Arsenal we returned to the top of the league where we belongs

Throwing Some Sweat on the Fire

 Posted by on July 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm  Uncategorized
Jul 252011
Nani Throwing Some Sweat on the Fire

Chicago Fire 1-3 Manchester United

The highlight of this game came just as the whistle blew. as a sweaty Nani  executed a spectacular somersault to celebrate the third United goal of the game, a sweet clincher l in the 88th minute.  The man sitting directly behind  me, his sun-scolded face as raw and ruddy as the replica shirt he was wearing, broke the seat he was jumping up and down on. United’s win may not have been nearly  as impressive as their last outing on the US Tour, but at least the Red Devils’ were tested this time out. Shvitzing hot and sweaty it was, and United, who looked rather anemic in the first half, nevertheless proved themselves to be fit, wilting and able in spite of the 94 F  heat and the  high midwestern humidity. Well prepared by their interim coach Frankie Klopas, the Fire hung in there, tackle for tackle and shot for shot, until midway through the second half.

Header Throwing Some Sweat on the FireHaving liberally tested everyone else in the squad, Sir Alex Ferguson took the opportunity to blood new signings Phil Jones and goalkeeper David de Gea. It was also  season debut time for  late arrivals Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck. Given the wickedly hot temperature–it was 115 F on the pitch–a lot of kudos has to go to Gabriel Obertan, who,  starting for the first time of the tour, ran non-top  After an indifferent season, the Frenchman made it clear that he wants to stay with the club and showed himself very much willing to compete with the logjam of wingers in the United squad. All desire and energy, he repeatedly set up the ever languid barely interested Dimitar Berbatov with a pair of  early chances. Indeed, on five separate occasions, Berbatov came close. Still, Obertan and a hard running Danny Welbeck dominated for United in a first half , which surely gave the Gaffer much food for thought.

Surprisingly, against the run of play, in the 13th minute, the Fire scored the opener as a crafty Cory Gibbs charged between the stationary center back pairing of Smalling and Jones and rose above both to carefully place a fine header into the top corner from an exquisite lobbed pass by Marco Pappa. For this one moment, United’s new goalie David  de Gea  did not cover himself with glory, hesitating a little about leaving his line. Naturally the crowd went crazy and at last a real match was on.

Chicago’s confidence .ballooned an they began testing Jones, Smalling and de Gea repeatedly. And de Gea made fantastic reflex save after a fantastic bit of pizzazz from Pappa. Indeed, when the whistle blew for half time, United, who seemed to have nobody aggressive in its midfield, were lucky to not be at least two down.

For the second half Ferguson brought on Jonny Evans, Ryan Giggs, Anderson, Wayne Rooney and Ji-Sung Park at the expense of  Fabio, Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and Mame Diouf, all of whom disappointed. Ryan Giggs, the eternal Welsh wizard, was spectacular, controlling the center of midfield from the get-go.  Two minutes in, his gorgeous chip found  Smalling, who blasted a beautiful angled shot  into the net only to be called offside after a late late whistle. The Fire then missed a couple of chances as Evans and Ferdinand also seemed to wilt in the heat.  Yet  Ferdinand seemed to shrug the weather off,  holding the ball well, keeping it, pushing forward, cajoling his tired teammates and venturing forward.  And 60 minutes in,  it was Rio who split Chicago’s defense with a perfect lob, finding  Wayne Rooney, who let it bounce and then lifted tit over the Fire’s stranded goalie Jon Conway for the equalizer.

With the initiative well and truly in the hands of United, the Reds still had to endure one final scare before really getting it together. Midfielder Pappa beat Ferdinand before firing a shot toward United’s goal which beat de Gea, but slammed into the  side netting. Then, out of nowhere, Rafael, the Brazilian live wire, galloped down the right lank, took a terrific pass from the hard running Rooney, before executing a clever one-two with Nani, shimmied away from his two markers, before firing home a lovely finish through the legs of Fire goalkeeper Conway. It was a lovely goal to behold and one that the packed house deserved as a reward for attendance.

Minutes later, the Cape Verdean winger Nani  came on and had his razzle-dazzle going on right away. After prompting  multiple ooh-ahs out of the crowd, Nani finally scored with two minutes remaining on the lock. Gathering up  the ball on the right Nani, took off for goal and found  Rooney. The ball bounced off a Chicago defender, however, and bounced  back to Nani, ricocheting conveniently back into his path. Nani then waited for the keeper to charge him  down before lobbing it over Conway.

Truth be told, the 3-1 score was tough on on Chicago, but, taking the relentlessness of the heat into consideration, United had something to celebrate, too.  Rooney, Giggs and Ferdinand all impressed tremendously.  Giggs genuinely seems to still be enjoying his football tremendously, perhaps because he’s been able to avoid the savage British tabloid press in the U.S.  Rio Ferdinand, much maligned over losing the national team’s captain’s badge, suffered from injuries over a substantial part of last season. With Evans, Smalling and Jones around to pick up the slack for him now, Ferdinand was at his happiest bringing the ball upfield. He looks to definitely have at least one more good season in him.

Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney looks about as effervescent as he’s ever been in a United kit. He seems to be getting more and more used to bringing the ball up from midfield, acting as more of an attacking midfield pulse for the team. Indeed, Ronny genuinely seems to be enjoying his current role. If Ferguson fails to find a quality Summer replacement for Paul Scholes in the transfer market, I for one think an experiment with Rooney in the hole behind  any two or one of Macheda, Welbeck, Berbatov and Hernandez, looks like it could work.

Ryan Giggs disappointed with result

 Posted by on April 27, 2011 at 4:43 am  Uncategorized
Apr 272011

giggs Ryan Giggs disappointed with resultThe veteran of English and European football was however disappointed with the 2:0 scoreline

Speaking to the skysports, he said: “We created enough chances to be four or five up at half time,” said Giggs. “Before the game, we’d have taken 2-0 but we’re slightly disappointed it was only two. I thought if we kept creating chances, one would go in and hopefully I would get one on my left foot rather than my right foot!”

Giggs had more goalscoring chances than anyone on the field but could not convert them. Eventually, he did get one on his left and that was the opener.

It was an outstanding performance by the 37 year old and he was surprisingly looking forward to the game on Sunday against Arsenal immediately after the match. He continued: “It’s a tough game on Sunday and the manager will obviously rotate and then get us ready for next week against these at Old Trafford, so obviously we’re pleased but the substitutes help as well, the lads who came on did well as well, so it’s not about 11 players but about the squad.”

Wayne Rooney, the other goal scorer also had thoughts to share, he said:”You never know,” he said of the two-legged tie. “We’re a bit disappointed we didn’t take a few more of our chances.

“We played very well tonight and I thought we created some great chances. Overall, I’m delighted with the performance and we’ve done really well to get two away goals so it’s a good win for us.”We have to be professional and finish the job off at home. Schalke are a good team and we won’t take them lightly. They went to Inter Milan and won 5-2 there so we need to make sure we’re professional and fully concentrated and manage to do the job and try to get to that final.”

We will see how they put that into practice as the tie does not look nail-biting at the moment but Schalke could surprise everyone. Maybe?