Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

The time is ticking on the year 2010. Football-wise, it was one heck of a roller coaster for us United die hards. We won the League Cup and have added another Charity Shield to our glittering trophy cabinet. However, during this year, the trophies we yearned for have eluded us. We were one point away from clinching that historic 19th(and 4 in a row) league title. We also bowed out of the Champions League after destroying Bayern Munich in a breath taking first half and then surrendering in the second period to an Arjen Robben el-Twatski inspired Bayern. We got kicked out of the FA Cup, normally 3rd in our demanding wishlist, after a defeat to Leeds. Getting kicked out of this competition having played just one game is difficult for us, but to get kicked out by Leeds added insult to injury.

We had to cope with the void left by the departure of the great Ronaldo and witnessed Rooney's emergence from the shadows of the Portuguese. We sang Wayne's name and supported him in every single move he made, we applauded every goal he made, we were happy because our Rooney was suddenly untouchable. In the same year he turned from hero to villain. We stood by him through his injuries and his nightmare at the World Cup but he chose to betray us and demand a move away from this club. We had to bear the image of a broken Ferguson admitting Rooney will leave in January and then, just a couple of days later, we were happy because confirmed Rooney was staying.

Berbatov, whose touch & control I never questioned, managed to force some curse words out of my mouth during the beginning of 2010 but has since been on song scoring goals for fun and winning most of his doubters and that includes me.

New players came in, with the arrival of a young Mexican, who performed so well during the 2010 World Cup, sparking the most interest. Chicharito stole our hearts and is now one of our most loved players. Meanwhile our senior players were ever present in our side during the past year. VDS was immense, Giggs and Neville inspired our young side with diligent talks and setting an example at the club while Scholes delivered one pin point pass after the other. We aslo had to wave Solskjaer goodbye for good. The revival of Anderson was another highlight of the final few months of 2010. He escaped the clutches of death last Summer and forced his way into the side with a string of some excellent performances. The young Brazilian is finally looking like the player we paid 18million for. Nani also had a great year. He's still a far cry from Ronaldo but he's proving to be of great importance to this side.

On a personal note, I didn't go to Old Trafford in 2010. The last time I've been there was in December 2009. I will however go to Manchester this February and hopefully see the derby game. Speaking of derbies, 2010 has now added another digit to that ticker at Old Trafford! We managed to beat Man City, the self proclaimed massive club, in the League Cup semi final and in their own back yard in a league match. 2010 also marked the epic fall of Liverpool from the highs of Champions League football to the lowly depths of the Europa League. In 2011 we might have the opportunity of not seeing Liverpool in any euro competitions at all! Our other rivals Chelsea started 2010 on a high but have ended it on a low. The team that most pundits tagged as "unbeatable" has now drowned in off field and on field crisis. Arsenal have become one year older but their team still plays like, in the words of Evra, "boys".

The 4-0 drubbing of Milan, our win over the same team at the San Siro, our 3-2 win over Liverpool, the 7-1 trashing of Blackburn, the win at Eastlands, the League Cup semi final win over shitty, the 3-1 win over the Gunners at the Emirates and a host of other games will surely remain in our minds. The image of a grinning John Terry holding our trophy is however something I long to forget from the past year.

2010 wasn't a great year but I think it was a good year. Here's hoping 2011 will see United getting that 19th League title and do well in(hopefully win) the other competitions. Fasten your seat belts, this could be another great ride!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Birmingham 1 - 1 United

Van Der Sar,
Rafael Ferdinand Vidic Evra
Gibson Carrick Anderson Giggs
Rooney Berbatov
We were very near a precious win away from home, but once again, we conceded late in the game. Bowyer, in an offside position, managed to level the score on the 90 minute mark. I'm not sure if the ball came off a United defender before going to Bowyer's feet, but if it came off a Birmingham player, then it was a clear offside.

I thought we played quite well. Berbatov scored another good goal and we also hit the post twice. We were better than Birmingham but the blues managed to absorb our play quite well and were rewarded with an undeserved equaliser. Foster pulled off a stunning save from a Vidic header and managed to save everything that came his way except, of course, for Berbatov's goal.

Anyway we are still leading the table, albeit on level point with our neighbours City. I knew this game was going to be difficult but I expected us to win it. We need to be more careful away from home. From 8 games we have only won 1 game, and we still need to face Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham on away grounds! But still, we are on top and unbeaten. That unbeaten record will come to a halt someday, I just hope that we won't rue the games we could have won but thrown away at the end i.e. Everton, WBA, Fulham and today vs Birmingham. COME ON UNITED bring back OUR trophy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

United 2 - 0 Sunderland

Rafael Rio Vida Evra
Park Carrick Anderson(Gibson) Giggs(Macheda)
Berbatov(Chicharito) Rooney
So United gave us the perfect Christmas present with a very good performance and the three points. The football we played during the first 30 minutes was simply a joy to watch and I think that we were a tad unlucky not to have scored 3 more goals during that period. We were bullying the black cat's defence and they were all over the place. Berbatov got a boxing day brace with two fine finishes. He was unlucky not to get his 3rd hat-trick of the season when he hit a fierce shot which rebounded off the post. He also had another terrific and acrobatic attempt well saved by the Sunderland keeper.

Despite a stellar performance from the Bulgarian, I still think that Anderson was the man of the match. The Brazilian, according to the papers, was sick of being at United and sought a move away from Old Trafford a couple of months ago. Roll on today and he has been our best performer during the past month or so. He managed to engineer his way into a team which was playing well and his performances have been a boost to our quest for our 19th league title. He was substituted and although he didn't seem particularly pleased about it, that move was a clear sign from Fergie that he intends to start Ando again in our difficult upcoming match. Well done Ando!!

All midfielders played well. Carrick had another good performances which suggests that he's nearing his full potential while Park and Giggsy started brightly but faded out as the game grew older. I knew Giggs didn't have more than an hour in his legs and he was rightly substituted on the 60 minute mark. Our defence played well once again. Vidic and Rio were an absolute rock at the back while Rafael and Evra defended and attacked with real intent. VDS was a spectator today. He was called into action only once with a fine shot by Zenden, evertyhing else that came his way was cleared by the titanic duo in front of him.

This festive period is pivotal in determining who wins the league. Getting maximum points out of the upcoming matches would put us in an excellent position. We will face Birmingham, West Brom and Stoke in quick succession and I believe we have the capability, with some squad rotation, to beat all three of them. So come on United!!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

United 1 - 0 Arsenal

Rafael Rio Vidic Evra
Nani Fletcher Carrick Anderson(Giggs) Park

An excellent improvised header by Park decided this much awaited game. Some might argue that the game was well balanced but I honestly think that we were the better team and therefore we deserved the win, simply because we created much more chances than the Gunners. Arsenal's only decent chance was when their French striker's tap in was superbly cleared off the line by the fantastic Vidic. Our captain was my man of the match.

I'm delighted with today's result and pretty pleased with our lads' performance. The defence was exceptional. Vidic and Rio were colossal while Rafael and Evra looked really solid today. I think that Rafael has finally come of age. He never rushed to his opponents, attacked wisely and defended brilliantly. His improvement from last season, and indeed from previous seasons, is almost tangible. Well done Rafael.

Meanwhile our midfield had a mixed game. Park scored the goal and worked his socks off, Nani gave Clichy all sorts of trouble with his pace but made a lot of wrong decisions. Fletcher was determined and Anderson keeps putting in a good performance after the other. He was also unlucky not to score, amazingly, his second goal in a week. Carrick was on and off, he's been like that all season.

At the front, Rooney had a good game. He was isolated but caused havoc in the Arsenal defence. However, his performance will be put in the shade of his awful penalty take. Reporters will undoubtly talk about that miss but in reality his cross field passes today were exquisite and he also nearly scored a wonder goal but the Arsenal goalie saved. He's been putting in very good performances since his return from injury but I do wish Rooney gets back to his scoring prowess. Missing that penalty, which I think was a tad unfair on the Arsenal defender(I still fail to understand what is considered as accidental and what is not), won't do his confidence in front of goal any good.

We are now on top of the league. If we win the next game we will be in a very comfortable position, however, a loss won't be the end of the world. I have been saying over and over again that the league could be decided in the coming weeks. I may have said that naively but I will hold on to my belief that if Chelsea fail to win any of their upcoming two huge games, they will be kicked out of the title race. COME ON UNITED!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

United 1 - 1 Valencia

Rafael Rio(Smalling) Vidic Fabio
Nani(Giggs) Carrick Anderson(Fletcher) Park
Berbatov Rooney

So we won our group and will therefore avoid Barca and Real Madrid in the next round. That doen't really mean anything because if we want to win this competition we've got to beat the best teams around. Anderson, yes Anderson, scored our goal. He was excellent throughout the match. The passes he executed were delightful and I guess he's nearing full fitness. He could have scored more goals, true, but his willingness to attack and help in defence was a pleasure to see. Well done Ando!

United played well but a couple of mistakes could have cost us the top spot. Carrick was at fault for Valencia's first goal while Smalling gave away the ball cheaply at times and we were lucky Valencia failed to capitalize. The selection of Amos might have raised a few eyebrows but I think that he did really well and I guess we have another good goalie lining up for the future, but you never know what might happen, we used to say the same thing about Foster.

The da Silva twins did really well. Rafael is becoming an automatic starter in the first XI but Fabio will find it a tad too difficult to take Evra's place. Still, they have got a bright future ahead of them. Rooney had another positive match, he was unlucky not to score but he's surely regaining full fitness. On the other hand Nani and Berbatov were disappointing.

Our next match is vs Arsenal. A win will put us in a comfortable position but a loss won't be too catastrophic. There again I expect us to win this match and then we can confidently meet Chelsea and their rock bottom morale. The forthcoming 3 matches could be pivotal in determining this year's league winner. COME ON UNITED!