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Dejavu!

Posted by united4ever2009 on April 18, 2010

Manchester City 0-1 Manchester United

Their body language said it all. They thumped the ground. They looked to the skies. There is nothing in football as brutal as the stoppage-time winner and at the final whistle the pitch was littered with players on their hands and knees: exasperated, broken, disbelieving. All of them wore blue shirts.

The game had waited a long time for some drama and when it finally arrived it was in the 93rd minute, with the referee Martin Atkinson already checking his watch. For one so small, Paul Scholes has always been magnificent at the art of heading a football. This was classic Scholes: the perfectly timed run, the arched jump, the twisting of the neck muscles and then, finally, that familiar sunrise of a smile.

Was this the moment the title race took another late twist? At the final whistle no one here could truly know the answer to that question, but Gary Neville was running half the pitch towards the away end, pulling deliriously at the badge on his shirt. Wayne Rooney was roaring. These were scenes of wild jubilation. They ran together, cavorting, embracing, with Sir Alex Ferguson doing that curious little war-dance on the touchline. It was reminiscent of that centre-circle dash in Moscow two years ago.

It had been a poor game, pockmarked with mistakes, as these matches often are, but United were marginally the better team. City looked tentative at times and they might have to be more adventurous in their last four games if they are to finish in fourth position and reach the Champions League qualifiers. Kirk Bradley, the 26-year-old fan, who has a tattoo commemorating City as the “2010-11 Champions League winners” might regret that decision one day.

Perhaps they might have penetrated the United defence more had they exploited Craig Bellamy’s pace against Gary Neville. Or maybe the credit should go to the visiting defenders. Carlos Tevez buzzed around and Emmanuel Adebayor toiled away. But the three did not combine as they have recently against lesser opposition. Bellamy, in particular, had a disappointing game, although, in mitigation, it was a common theme for the front players from both sides. This was one of those games when, for long spells, the more effective players were tacklers such as Nigel de Jong and Darren Fletcher or defensive stoppers such as Vincent Kompany and Nemanja Vidic.

The Premier League is so fast these days it can be like watching ice hockey on grass at times. Scholes seemed to be the only player who realised that sometimes it can be of benefit to put your foot on the ball and slow everything down – pick out the pass, spread the play. Ryan Giggs, with a proud record of having featured in every Manchester derby since making his debut, also brought a measure of poise and Dimitar Berbatov did well when he came on but there was no doubting the identity of the best player: cometh the 93rd minute, cometh the little ginger man.

As a spectacle, however, there were too many attacking players, Rooney and Tevez included, who struggled to impose themselves. Perhaps Tevez was trying too hard. As for Rooney, he looked laboured throughout his 74 minutes on the pitch, not as sharp across the first few metres, perhaps only 80% fit. You can always tell when things aren’t going well for Rooney when he starts sniping at the referee and he was yapping away at Atkinson for most of the first half.

Atkinson was a strange choice given that he was the referee at the centre of the “Fergie Time” controversy when the teams met at Old Trafford in September. The original choice, Steve Bennett, was abroad, unable to fly back because of the Icelandic volcano eruption, and City had been sufficiently concerned about Atkinson’s switch from Stoke against Bolton that they tried to contact the Premier League referees’ chief, Mike Riley, to voice their misgivings on Friday afternoon. In other words, Ferguson is not the only practitioner in the art of trying to influence match officials. The biter had been bit – and you can only imagine the eruption from United’s manager if Atkinson had made a telling mistake in City’s favour.

As it was, Atkinson made a few errors here and there but generally got by without any major controversy and, ironically, his most obvious oversight was not booking Rooney after he had flicked out his leg to trip De Jong. The truth is it has been a bad season for the Premier League’s referees but, on this occasion, there was no sense of grievance about the dramatic, late and decisive goal.

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Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United, Match Review | Leave a Comment »

The Manchester Derby!

Posted by united4ever2009 on April 16, 2010

The Critics Preview!

Manchester City and bitter enemies Manchester United meet at Eastlands on Saturday lunchtime in one of their most significant derby battles.

Roberto Mancini’s City are desperate to reinforce their hold on fourth place in the Premier League and they are aware a win would also inflict further damage on United’s title aspirations.

City are now the favourites to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League, but they sit just one point above Tottenham in what promises to be an agonising conclusion to the season.

United occupy second position and trail leaders Chelsea by four points after a defeat to the Blues and a stalemate with Blackburn loosened Sir Alex Ferguson’s defending champions’ grip on the trophy.

In contract to their neighbours, City are hitting form at the perfect time of the season having won their last three matches and they have scored 14 goals in the process to build a degree of confidence.

Revenge

To add to the spice, the home side are out for revenge after they felt they were denied at least a point by refereeing inconsistency in September’s injury-time defeat at Old Trafford, while they were also knocked out of the Carling Cup semi-finals by United.

Carlos Tevez will start against former club United and the Argentina star will want to continue a rich vein of form which has seen him score six goals in his last three matches.

Wayne Bridge has a chance of featuring as he has recovered from a hernia operation which caused him to miss five matches.

The full-back is one of four players who are in line to return with Stephen Ireland (ankle) and Patrick Vieira (knee) on the mend following injuries while Pablo Zabaleta is free from suspension.

Ferguson has confirmed that striker Wayne Rooney is in contention to return from the ankle complaint which forced him to miss the draw with Blackburn after aggravating the problem against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

United are also boosted by the news that England midfielder Owen Hargreaves is set to be included for the City game, giving him the chance to make his first senior appearance in almost 20 months after a series of knee operations.

Possible Starting XIs

Manchester City: Given, Onuoha, Kompany, Toure, Garrido, A Johnson, De Jong, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez, Adebayor.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Fletcher, Giggs, Nani, Berbatov.

Match Facts:

  • The last three Premier League Manchester derbies at Eastlands have ended 1-0: once in City’s favour and twice in United’s.
  • Ryan Giggs has appeared in all 28 league Manchester derbies since his first league start came against City in May 1991.
  • No current Manchester City player has scored more than twice in Premier League Manchester derbie.
  • Wayne Rooney has scored in his last three consecutive Premier League appearances, bagging a total of five goals.

Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United, Match Preview | Leave a Comment »

Anderson out for 6 months

Posted by united4ever2009 on February 25, 2010

United midfielder Anderson has been ruled out for six months with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

The Brazilian was forced off in the first half against West Ham on Tuesday and will undergo an operation in Portugal in a fortnight, but Sir Alex Ferguson hopes the 21-year-old will be fit for the start of the 2010/11 campaign.

“The real bad news we have got is that Anderson has suffered a cruciate knee injury and he’ll be out for rest of the season,” confirmed the boss on Thursday. “It’s unfortunate for the boy. It’s a bad blow.

“We’ve assessed the situation, we know he needs an operation. That will be done in two weeks’ time when the swelling has gone down. We’re going to let him go to Portugal to do it. Sometimes we send them to Colorado and to Dr Richard Steadman, but on this occasion he is comfortable with the specialist he has dealt with at Porto in the past. He will deal with it. We made these decisions yesterday once we had assessed the damage. But hopefully, six months, should have him about right for the new season.”

The incident itself against West Ham seemed innocuous enough, Anderson stretching to reach the ball to make a pass. “With these types of injuries, it’s usually something simple. He stretched to pass the ball and his knee just popped,” added the boss.

“It’s a bad bit of news for him. He was just getting back into the first team after being out for a few weeks. He was looking forward to it and he was showing great energy in the match.

“So that is a blow to us, particularly with the Milan game coming up, because Michael Carrick is suspended for that one.”

Courtesy: Official Website

It’s a big blow for the lad, especially after his alleged misconduct by leaving for Brazil without the club’s permission. He just got back into the team after a good reserves game, but unfortunately it lasted a mere 15 minutes.

Posted in Manchester United, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

34 years and still counting…

Posted by united4ever2009 on February 25, 2010

City’s trophyless period is extended as they lost 4-2 on aggregate to Stoke City in 5th round of FA Cup.

Posted in Rivals | Leave a Comment »

Decade of the Devils!

Posted by united4ever2009 on December 24, 2009

We have come to the end of the first decade of the new millenium.It has been one hell of a roller coaster ride for the Red-Devils and Co. During this period, United have set benchmarks for other teams to follow, reached the zenith of success the others can only dream of, thereby becoming the envy of a few and the love of millions. There has been the odd hiccup, a dry season with lacklustre performances, stars who’ve left the club.But,who can complain? Be it the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the Carling Cup or the World Club Championship! The Devils can boast of all these crowning glories in their kitty.

United’s success can be attributed to coordinated team effort, moments of individual brilliance, the support staff and last, but surely not the least, the man who envisaged this vision and laid the foundation for the  journey to the summit of success. Sir Alex Chapman Ferguson’s name needs no introduction to any football lover and commands the respect of every one. Ferguson celebrates his 68th birthday on December 31st! So here’s wishing him an advance happy birthday and reliving some of the finest moments of the devils the past decade.

5. The Great Comeback( Tottenham  Hotspur 3-5 Man Utd )

4. Playing Catch-up (2002-03)

This season,United were trailing leaders Arsenal by 11 points at Christmas.Yet,we won the title.

3. The Premier League Season (2006-07)

2. The Hattrick (2008-09)

1. The Champions League (2007-08)

Posted in Manchester United, Miscellaneous, Sir Alex Ferguson | Leave a Comment »

Owen at 30!

Posted by united4ever2009 on December 13, 2009

He announced himself on the world stage in the 1998 World Cup with a spectacular finish against their bitter rivals Argentina.Since then, he has scored 40 goals for England in 89 appearances and is in striking distance of Sir Bobby Charlton’s record tally of  goals for England.Was considered to be finest striker of his generation. Michael Owen’s career has been one filled with many ups and downs. Spate of Injuries,Wrong choices have let him down over the years. Move to Real Madrid saw him spending more time on the bench, which was grave injustice to his striking prowess. The time at Newcastle was ridden with lack of coordinated team effort and service to him was meagre.

Adding to the woes, Owen was dropped from the National Squad.With the 2010 World Cup less than a year away, the transfer to United could be the right break at the right time. The spectacular finish against City in the dying moments, increased his acceptance among the Redfellas. The recent hattrick in the Champions League has not only increased his chances of making it to 2010, but also an answer to his critics,who felt he was a man past his prime.Enough said!

Owen celebrates his 30th birthday on December 14th.

Here’s Wishing Michael Owen a Very Happy Birthday! May the force be with you and United!

Posted in Manchester United, Michael Owen | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Injury-hit United thrash West Ham

Posted by united4ever2009 on December 7, 2009

United had to play with a make-shift defence due to injuries to Ferdinand and Evans, while Vidic was suffering from flu. Gary Neville and Wes Brown suffered injuries compounding United’s problems. But United had no problem in brushing off West Ham in a convinving 4-0 win that will  surely galvanise United especially after Man City beat Chelsea 2-1 to reduce the gap at the top to 2 points between United and Chelsea.

The game was pretty even in the first half but United had more of the possession. United made the crucial break when Scholes struck a powerful left foot shoot past Green after superbly controlling with his chest. United went into the break leading at 1-0. Gary Neville had to be substituted due to a groin problem. He was replaced by Carrick in the defence. West Ham stepped up the pressure in the second half, but United hit the Hammers on the break and a superb exchange of passes between Rooney and Giggs, who setup Gibson to drive an unstoppable strike into the net. Shortly after United netted their third after Anderson low cross into the six yard box was met by Valencia at the far post to score his 5th goal of the campaign. The game was all but over for the Hammers. Seconds later, Rooney got his name on the scoreboard when Valencia crossed into the path of Rooney who greatly obliged. It was 4-0 to United and one of their most convincing performances at Upton Park in recent years. United have injury problems to worry about as they face Wolfsburg in the last round of CL matches.

Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United, Match Comments, Match Review, Wayne Rooney | Leave a Comment »

United back-off from Ljajic deal

Posted by united4ever2009 on December 4, 2009

United have decided not to take up the option to sign Partizan Belgrade midfielder Adem Ljajic.

A report from the club’s official website states


The 18-year-old Serbian attacking midfielder had been lined up for a potential move to Old Trafford next year.

However, with a wealth of top young talent in that position already at the club, United have announced that the initial interest in Ljajic will not be followed up.

A club spokesman told ManUtd.com: “We had an option to buy the player but, having closely monitored his development over past 12 months, and taken into the consideration the young players emerging through the ranks, we have chosen not to pursue the transfer.”

There are interesting theories to why United chose to walk away from the deal. United either wanted to free some funds so they could spend it for a bigger player in January transfer window or they felt that Ljajic’s progress wasn’t good enough to go ahead with the deal. It would be interesting to note Fergie’s version on this.  On the other hand, one must feel sorry for the lad. His dream of playing for United have been shattered. Ljajic, interesting has been nicknamed ‘Little Kaka’. United apparently had a ‘get-out’ clause in the deal. In my opinion, there could be some sort of financial crisis at the club. One wonders what United do in the January Transfer window.

Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United, Youth | Leave a Comment »

Diouf arrives!

Posted by united4ever2009 on November 28, 2009

Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Mame Biram Diouf and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Carrington


Thursday had Mame Biram Diouf’s first training session with Manchester United after leaving Norwegian Club FC Molde.

The striker will be able to play for United from January. He has already made an impression by scoring 2 goals for the reserves against the U-18’s.

Here’s a short look at him:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Ooh Aah Cantona!

Posted by united4ever2009 on November 21, 2009

Cantona: I would’ve punched Henry

Eric Cantona has claimed that he would have punched Thierry Henry on the pitch if he was one of the Ireland players.

Henry handled the ball twice before setting up a goal for William Gallas during extra-time in the play-offs match against Ireland. France qualified for next summer’s World Cup instead of Ireland as a result of the disputed goal.

According to The Sun, the Manchester United and France legend has claimed that he is more shocked with Ireland’s lack of fighting spirit than Henry’s handball.

Cantona said: “What shocks me the most quite frankly, is not the hand-ball.

“What shocks me the most is that this player, at the end of the game, in front of the TV cameras, went to sit down next to an Ireland player to comfort him – when he had just screwed him.”

After the full time whistle, Henry went to console Ireland defender Richard Dunne .

Cantona added: “If I had been an Irishman, he wouldn’t have lasted three seconds.”

Posted in FIFA, Yesteryears | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »