Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Newcastle 0 - 1 United

Valencia Smalling Evans Rojo(Carrick)
Di Maria(Januzaj) Blind Herrera Young
Rooney Fellaini(Mata)
Oh the ecstasy of winning right at the death
Phew, that was close! We were better than Newcastle but failed to convert our possession into real chances. Whenever we went close to scoring, we found Krul in excellent form keeping our players off the scoresheet. Ironically, just before the final whistle, it was Krul who gifted us a goal on a plate and Young duly took the chance to win us the three points. It's been a while since we won a game right at the death, I had forgotten what a good feeling it is. 

Where would we be if it wasn't for this goalie?
As I said, in terms of possession, we were all over Newcastle. However, they had as many chances as we did. De Gea produced some stunning saves today to keep a clean sheet and he was undoubtedly our best player on the pitch. World Class.

Most of our players put in an ordinary display. I can only think of one player who had a poor game but no player excelled tonight. Young worked hard on the left and managed to deliver a decent cross or two into the box. He was ultra composed to score the winner. Valencia did well on the overlap. Rooney worked his socks off and should be commended for his pressure on Krul which ultimately led to our winner at the death. Blind was tidy while Herrera was good in possession but his over-hesitation nearly cost us a goal. I thought Fellaini did well and would have been on the scoresheet if it wasn't for a minor miracle performed by Krul.  I thought our defenders did OK too. Nothing out of this world and we were only playing a side that was annihilated by City a fortnight ago. 

The one player I mentioned who had a bad game is Di Maria. Yet again, he had a stinker, I can't believe this is the same player who set the world alight last year at Real. He'll obviously find his feet again but I'm not sure when this will happen. With some major games coming up, we need Angel to be his old self as soon as possible. 

Ultimately we got exactly what we wanted and needed; 3 points. Do we deserve the 3 points? We were better. We fluffed a few chances. We had Krul saving whenever we did everything right. We probably deserved a win but Newcastle had their fair share of chances. Their game was to operate on the counter so you cannot expect them to come close to us when it comes to possession. They did counter attack and they could have gotten something out of the game if it wasn't for De Gea. Was it an abysmal performance from United? No. As I said, we didn't do badly but we weren't ripping Newcastle apart either. We were ordinary. That's not Manchester United but I've seen United play like shit in the past and still come up with the 3 points. Sometimes such victories are sweeter. 

Arsenal in the FA Cup next. A host of difficult Premier League tests will then follow. It'll be tough. Come on United!

LVG on Roo's effort that led to the goal: "It was a lost ball, but his fighting spirit is unbelievable."

P.s. I'm no grief junkie but the scene of Jonas Gutierrez getting onto the field of play was absolutely beautiful. I cannot help but wonder about the hard work this guy has put in his rehabilitation programme to get fit again for the Premier League. An inspiration. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

United 2 - 0 Sunderland

So I missed my first game this season because I had a football game with my local team an hour before the United game started. I was planning on making it home in time to watch the second half but I dislocated my shoulder during our game and missed the United game in its entirety. Despite the pain while waiting to get an x-ray at the hospital, I followed the game via livescore. Quite a frustrating way to follow United but that had to do. 

I cannot really comment on the game because I didn't watch a second of it and the MOTD highlights haven't been uploaded yet. What I know is that it's nice to see Roo get a brace. I heard Di Maria and Falcao were useless once again and that's very disappointing. Apparently, Januzaj had a very good game and got a deserved hug by the manager at the end of the game. Good to know. 

Away to Newcastle on Wednesday. Let's hope for a win.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Swansea 2 - 1 United

McNair(Valencia) Jones Rojo Shaw(Young)
DiMaria(Mata) Blind Herrera Fellaini
RVP Rooney

Football is a funny old game. We've played like shit for the past few months and won most of our games. Today, with the exception of the first 10 minutes, our players did quite well. I thought we were in total control of the game yet we lost as Swansea's hideous scouse midfielder scored their only effort of the second half. Just in case you didn't know; I really don't like Shelvey. 

Swansea started the game better than us. In fact, they had two decent chances from corner kicks. We started to get into the game as time wore on. Ander Herrera scored after a brilliant build up. We were only in the lead for a couple of minutes though. Our defenders gave Ki and Shelvey too much space and the two combined to draw level. 

After the half time break, we were all over Swansea. What we lacked was a good attempt at goal. RVP is nowhere near the RVP of old. Rooney wasn't as effective either but worked hard to get into the game. Robin just doesn't look interested. If our alternative to van Persie was in form, our Dutchman would never make the starting XI. Unfortunately, Falcao is as off form as van Persie and looks like one of the biggest flops I've ever seen at United. Perhaps it's time for van Gaal to give young Wilson a start ahead of the ineffective, albeit experienced, RVP and Falcao. If we had an in form striker, we would've buried Swansea. 

What worried me today was our reaction to the goal we conceded on the 75th minute. I don't think we really believed we could get back into the game let alone win it. We didn't really threaten Swansea's rearguard after we conceded the goal. The belief that we can win late in the game has vanished with Sir Alex's retirement. 

Van Gaal's 'philosophy' when we're trailing with a few minutes to go is to start playing the long ball. While it seems to have worked against some teams, the long ball game is very easy to defend against. Swansea didn't find it hard to defend the long balls that were being played hence our lack of chances during the latter stages of the game. 

What next? I've said this time and again; I'm wasn't worried about Southampton finishing in the top 4, I was more worried about Arsenal. After this game, the Gunners have leapfrogged us and the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool are also dangerously close to us. We've started the weekend at 3rd but could end in 5th if Southampton win against Liverpool. I'm starting to get the feeling that we won't make it into the Champions League next season. Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal will be in the top 4, I guess we'll have to fight with the others for the other place. Another year without Champions League football will be very damaging for Manchester United. I can live without CL football for another year but I don't think the Glazer's pockets can. Hopefully our manager will be given time to prove himself this time. Come on United!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Preston NE 1 - 3 United

Valencia Smalling Rojo Shaw
Di Maria Fellaini Blind Herrera 
Falcao(Young) Rooney

It's pretty much the same feeling I got after the Burnley game; the result is a good one but I thought the performance was mediocre at best. Preston managed to open the score right after the break after a drab first half. Thankfully, we had more than enough time to react to Preson's goal.  We were lucky to get the opener. Rooney, in an offside position, was obstructing the goalie, even though he didn't touch the ball, thus our first goal shouldn't have stood. Thankfully the linesman thought otherwise and Herrera's goal stood. Preston were demoralised and from then on I always felt that United were going to win the game.

The reaction from our players after the goal we conceded was good to see. They looked like they were actually busting a sweat to win the game. Valencia and Fellaini did well today. The latter is increasingly becoming one of my favourite players. He's not a technical player but his height is a worry to any defence he plays against. Upon Falcao's exit, he moved further up the pitch and proved to be a bigger threat to the Preston defence than the mighty Falcao. Fellaini certainly looks clumsy but he has become a very important player in our squad this year. This time last year he was having a torrid time. Fast forward to this present day and I think he's been one of our best players this season. Well played. 

Our third goal also had a touch of luck about it. Rooney managed to win a penalty by  going down a tad too easy, even though Preston's goalie made a very stupid challenge in the box. There was never any contact by the goalie with Roo. Phil Dowd awarded a penalty and Rooney duly delivered. I'm not complaining.

A lot love to point out the lucky breaks United had but fail to mention that Preston should have played twenty odd minutes with 10 men. Kevin Davies should have been sent off after a second bookable offence. The ref decided to turn a blind eye to Davies' reckless challenge only because he had already been booked before. 

So our next FA Cup game is home to Arsenal. There were much easier opponents we could have got but we you're bound to meet a good team in a cup run and the Arsenal game will be a good test for our players. A win against the gunners will give us a very good chance of finally winning the FA Cup again. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

United 3 - 1 Burnley

McNair Jones(Smalling) Evans Rojo
Di Maria Blind(Herrera) Rooney Januzaj
RVP Falcao(Wilson)

Not a good performance. Again. It's becoming a bit of a habit now. Burnley were better than us during the first half and were really unlucky to be trailing by half time. We scored 6 minutes into the game when substitute (yes, substitute) Chris Smalling(yes, Chris Smalling) headed home. Burnley immediately drew level with an excellent build up and a brilliant header by the impressive Ings. Despite all the efforts by an admirable Burnley side, it was United who scored the second when Chris Smalling (yep...) leapt over the Burnley defenders and scored his second. 

It wouldn't be a United game nowadays without a couple of brilliant De Gea saves. Indeed, De Gea managed to save a shot from point blank and was pretty solid throughout. I thought McNair and Rojo did quite well, especially the former, while Smalling had his best match this season. Apart from scoring the goals, he was our best defender. Meanwhile, his partner at the back, Evans, was absolute wank today. I remember a time when this guy used to play better than Rio or Vida but he seems to have regressed this season. It hurts to say this, because I loved Evans of two seasons ago, but I think his time at United will soon be over. He's become our worst central defender. Rojo, Smalling and Jones are better and I expect us to buy one or two central defenders during the summer.

At the middle of the park, Blind had to be substituted half an hour into the game. I don't think it's anything serious though so he should be available for our next match. His replacement, Herrera, had a decent game. He was tidy in possession and managed to calm things down at the times when Burnley were all over us. Di Maria had a really good game today. I'm sure he created our 2nd and 3rd goal and I think the initial cross that lead to our first goal was his as well. Not sure on that one though. I've given Angel some stick lately because I know he is capable of tearing any defence apart. He managed to give plenty of headaches to the Burnley defenders today, especially during the second half. So well done Angel.

RVP scored from a penalty but was anonymous throughout the game and so was Falcao. I'm absolutely sure Falcao won't be signed during the summer UNLESS he scores a hat trick in every game until the end of the season. That's obviously never going to happen. You'd expect a player of Falcao's quality to be a constant pain in any defender's arse. In reality, Burnley's defence dealt with him easily. RVP isn't any better at the moment. Both are off form and I'm not entirely sure they'll ever hit top form again. We'll see. 

I read a tweet that said "We're turd and we're third". That basically sums it all up. We've been playing shit all season long yet we're in third place. I wonder what would have happened had our players played to their maximum potential. Thing is, is it the players' fault that they're playing so bad at the moment? Or does the problem lie in van Gaal and the philosophy he's been blabbing about since summer? 

Meanwhile, Preston await in the 5th round of the FA Cup. I honestly don't know what to expect. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

West Ham 1 - 1 United

Valencia Jones Rojo Shaw(s/o)
Di Maria Blind Rooney Januzaj(Fellaini)
van Persie Falcao(Smalling)

Our first half performance was so dreadful that it almost hurt my eyes. I expected it to be a tough game but to have Falcao, van Persie, Di Maria and Rooney and only mustering one shot at goal during the first 45 minutes is something on the verge of shameful. By half time, we were still in the game thanks to De Gea who made some terrific saves.

We conceded a goal early in the second half, a brilliant finish which was deflected by Blind. Perhaps the fact that we conceded so early was a blessing. After the goal, our players finally tried to do something but despite all the huffing and puffing we still couldn’t score. Falcao and van Persie missed two sitters, both should have scored. Thankfully, Daley Blind managed to win us a point right at the death. It was definitely a point won rather than two lost, West Ham would have run out worthy winners if they won the game.

I’m starting to fear that we won’t be able to make it into the top four. We only won 3 games away from home and were extremely lucky in two of those three. At home, although not setting the world alight, we’re doing just fine. Our away form is very worrying though. What’s even more worrying is van Gaal’s long ball tactic. This tactic seems to work on occassions because our goal was the result of a West Ham defender clearing after some pressure from our big Belgian. However, that is just not Man Utd. The long ball system is not Man Utd. It is so boring. I miss that brilliant attacking football we got used to seeing under Fergie. It’s been a while since we’ve seen some decent wing play in one of our Premier League games. Rooney is not playing in his position. Di Maria is looking clueless in this system. Falcao is ridiculously off form and Van Persie isn’t better. Perhaps it’s time to give Wilson and Rooney a start up front. We need to start winning these away games. All teams trailing us are too close for comfort.

Home to Burnley next. Let’s get a convincing win.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

United 3 - 0 Cambridge

McNair Smalling Evans Rojo(Young)
Rooney Mata Blind DiMaria(Herrera)
RVP(Wilson) Fellaini 

That was a comfortable victory, as expected. However, it's not a Man Utd game if we're not given a scare. We were given one heck of fright just after a minute when Cambridge's striker came face to face with our goalie after a right cock-up by Blind and our central defenders. Luckily, their striker hit the post when he should have easily placed in the corner of the net. From then on it was all about United. We had a lot of possession and managed to create some decent chances. I think a 3-0 scoreline is a good scoreline for both teams. Cambridge's players deserved to walk out of Old Trafford with their pride in tact. 

There was quite a stir on Twitter when the lineup was announced. People were surprised Fellaini was starting instead of Herrera but I think our Belgian deserved his place in our starting XI. He's been very good this season. Ever since that WBA game at the Hawthorns, he's been a different player to the one we've seen last season. Van Gaal's decision to start Fellaini was vindicated as he managed to head down some decent balls into the 6 yard box. Fellaini had a say in our first goal as he knocked down a Di Maria cross and Mata scored from close range. Well played Marouane.

Most of our players had a good game, as you'd expect when Premier League stars play against League Two footballers. I was quite pleased with both our fullbacks. Rojo scored his first goal for United while McNair was a constant threat on the right. I thought McNair was our best player today. He worked really hard and managed to put in some decent crosses. I like the guy.

RVP and Rooney huffed and puffed to score a goal but it wasn't their day. Our Dutchman did provide Rojo with an assist but he looked a tad frustrated when he couldn't find a way past Cambridge's goalie.  Better luck next time. 

Our young striker Wilson scored a well taken goal too. Perhaps Cambridge's goalie should have done something about the shot but I'll take nothing away from Wilson. It's always a pleasure to see a young product of our nursery doing well with the senior squad. 

West Ham away next; it'll be a tough game, I'm not sure what to expect.