Wazza Said So!

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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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Another encounter of men against boys

Posted by unitedfanatic on February 1, 2010

The title charge has truly been reignited! With this 3-1 pounding of Arsenal, the Champions continue building their momentum while dampening the North Londoners’ spirits.

After the humiliating 3-0 defeat at Craven Cottage, United have picked it up from there and gone about their ruthless streak. Found the back of the net 19 times in 6 Premier League games and picked up 16 points from a possible 18.  More than anything, United have strongly re-established their reputation of being feared.

There were simply too many positives yesterday, so much so that it would be rude to talk about the negatives. Arsenal needed to really show up and Arshavin looked like the only man who was fired up, but he could have done better.

Fabregas was kept quiet for the entire match and deprived of time and space.

Denilson was as anonymous as the Sardarji at Old Trafford who occupies his seat beside the dugout area and is to be seen only once or twice in the entire game as an unmissable backdrop to the shouting manager, despite it being such a conspicuous position.

Clichy was left gasping for breath. And the ball. Arsenal’s defence was pretty solid, keeping United from having their way in the box many times, but perhaps their cause was lost by Vermaelen rushing forward and helping in the attack, when it should have been Denilson doing that.

They sorely missed Van Persie, as a clueless Rosicky ran hither thither.

The United midfield yet again proved a point. That they won’t stand being underestimated, and let all the credit go to Rooney alone. Nani must make Valencia seem like a small time winger, and probably gives the gaffer a headache, but these sort of headaches are good to have. And all this, without even Giggs’ presence on the field! Simply “mind blasting”, as an amused Russell Peters would put it were he a United supporter.

Our defence was without two first choice centre backs and did a great job.

The only negative that I can see is the poor start to the game that we had – sloppy in possession, and bossed in the midfield despite having a man extra. The couple of chances Arsenal had early on were enough to give us a scare, and had they been converted into goals, it could have been a very different story.

But, oh well. Not a single shot on target until the 57th minute says something very obvious. The boys were put in their place.

Glory Glory Man United!

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Quickie review of the 1-1 draw at St.Andrews

Posted by unitedfanatic on January 10, 2010

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A disappointing loss at Old Trafford

Posted by unitedfanatic on December 13, 2009

The first home loss United suffer at home this season. And the first to Villa at Old Trafford in 26 years.

Sir Alex Ferguson put Park Ji Sung in the starting line up, leaving Berba and Owen on the bench. Remains a  mystery why he wanted to do that. Maybe he was attempting to establish a good chemistry in our 4-5-1 system and hone Rooney’s skills as a lone striker? But if thats so, then why in this dangerous fixture? With a makeshift defence of Brown and Vidic and Darren “I own the frikkin midfield” Fletcher at right back, it was always going to be a difficult fixture, but it might have been difficult to acknowledge that, given the manner of our victories against West Ham and Wolfsburg.

So with a basically 4-5-1 setup and Giggs moving as supporting striker occasionally, it was still looking good for us. It looked like we could capitalize on the 2 dropped points by Chelsea. But it was all undone by the goal that came at a very crucial time for Villa at the hands of Agbonlahor. A deserved goal for Villa.

Would we have been better off with Carrick and Vidic at the centre of our defence, and Brown at right back? It was vital to contain Ashley Young, and maybe we underestimated the chances of Fletcher being dominated by Young.

But we made a strong comeback and poured forward, with Giggs and Rooney disappointingly missing some chances, and more notably, Rooney belting the ball goalward, only to rattle the crossbar. Frustrating.

After half time, it was expected that United would dominate, and Villa would defend in numbers. And that is, pretty much, what happened. Only, we never equalized. Why was Giggs brought off at half time? He was putting in great efforts and almost equalized before the break. Another injury? Hope not.

Too many questions, and not many answers, as of now. The story of the second half was pretty much the same throughout. United attacked. It was snuffed out. And again regained possession. But Villa literally had 8 men in their D whenever the ball got near, and again it was snuffed out.

And it ended with just 3 minutes of added time, the only complaint I can make of the Match officials. It was too less! There were too many interruptions in the second half and though 5 minutes would have been too much, 4 would have been less too. But still, we could have settled for 4.

The other decision, of a Yellow for a dive by Rooney, I will not argue. There was no contact, and the booking was warranted in every way. But that doesn’t mean Wazza was trying to fool the ref. He never made any appeal for a penalty. He could have tripped, he could’ve anticipated a tackle and gone off balance, or maybe it was a blatant dive. But knowing him, I know most would rightfully agree with me that he wouldn’t have celebrated, even if a penalty was wrongfully given.

But in a way, I’m glad of one thing atleast. If we would have lost when Chelsea would have won, It would have been much worse. Three points is still reaching distance. And there seems to be some invisible force at work against Chelsea. Even in its absence, there will be ACON to cheer us on to title glory.

On the bright side, now we go on a run of relatively easy fixtures in the league, facing the likes of Birmingham, Burnley, Hull City(twice), Wolverhampton and Fulham till January 26th. Thats not to undermine those teams, but they’re relatively easy games. And it coincides with the christmas, new year and ACON time. Thats the period when we have so often lifted ourselves to the top of the table for good. Lets hope its the same this time around!

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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.

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Dominant United ease past Blackburn

Posted by united4ever2009 on November 1, 2009

Man Utd           2-0 Blackburn Rovers

Man Utd: Berbatov (55), Rooney (87)

After a disappointing defeat at Anfield, United were back in business with a 2-0 win over hapless Blackburn. Blackburn went with a packed midfield and it took United to settle on the ball and create chances. United came closest in the first half when Valencia’s cross was headed into the ground by Berbatov only to be saved comfortably by Paul Robinson. United had a goal disallowed when Rooney was caught offside when he setup Berbatov to open the flood gates. United had to go into the match with a makeshift defence as Vidic and Ferdinand were both ruled out due to injury. But Brown and Evans were rarely pressed into action as Blackburn had very little flair going forward.

United upped the ante in the second half and it finally paid dividends when Evra dragged the ball fiercely into penalty box towards Berbatov who controlled it well and smashed the ball on the turn to score a superb goal. It was Berbatov’s 4th goal of the season and a much needed goal to break the shackles. Gabriel Obertan made his BPL debut for United when he came on for a disappointing Nani. The 20 year old looked promising but it was clear that he was nervous and over awed by the occassion. He had a chance to score on his debut when he missed the target from six yards. Late on, Anderson’s superb cross into the box was met by Rooney, who guided the ball superbly into goal to give United an unassailable lead. Michael Owen came on for Berbatov for the last 15 minutes and he had a chance to score a goal in stoppage time but his shot went just wide of the goal. Blackburn were themselves disallowed a goal due to offside when Kalinic finished the rebound from Benny McCarthy’ s shot but replays showed that Kalinic  was onside. But it would have made little difference as United were back to winning ways on a day when 9-man Liverpool lost at Fulham.

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Title challenge rolls on as United relinquish lead

Posted by unitedfanatic on October 25, 2009

Nemanja VidicTo be truthful, I’m in a mixed state of emotions after the 2-0 defeat at Anfield.

First, a word on our performance. Rooney’s appearance really should have had more influence on the game, and his lack of match fitness was apparent. But that doesn’t mean he was to blame for the loss. Valencia and Van Der Sar put in a pretty good performance, but their efforts lie in vain. We failed to click as a team and the result seems deserved for the past couple of patchy performances.

Second, the reaction to Liverpool’s win. After ending their worst form in 22 years (yes, hear it again Mr. Jamie Carragher) they finally put it behind them to clinch all 3 points. But what amused me was their reaction to the win. It brings to mind the vast difference in the state of affairs at both the clubs. Liverpool move from 8th to 5th as United stepped down to 2nd from the summit. Sure they have every reason to be happy but it’s still not good enough just winning against us. Like Gary Neville said, I’d take the Liverpool loss if we go on to win the Title. Its remarkable how we manage to grind out results the way we do, and we need to take heart from that.

One loss. Just a blip. We need to regroup and go on another, even better, run like the one after the loss to Burnley in which we won 10 games and drew one to go top of the Premier League table and put one leg in the Champions League knock out stages.

Stamford Bridge, and the opportunity to leapfrog Chelsea to the top, beckon in a fortnight. So there should be more focus on building momentum for that fixture and keeping Evans fit, rather than debate Vidic’s antics for his 3rd consecutive sending off against Liverpool (horrendous, that!).

What’s that you say? Yes. Of Course United are capable of doing it!

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ManUtd 3 – 1 Spurs

Posted by unitedfanatic on September 12, 2009

Result:   Manchester United 3 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur

Giggs 25′                               Defoe 1′

Anderson 41′

Rooney 78′

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