Sunday, February 26, 2012

Norwich 1 - 2 United

De Gea
Jones Evans Ferdinand Evra
Nani Carrick Scholes Giggs(Smalling)
Welbeck Chicharito(Young)

Our 'old' players kept us in the title race
Our old guard and two of our frustrating wingers combined to earn United a win. Scholes' header put United in the driving seat but we never really pushed the pedal for the second. In fact De Gea was in superb form to deny Norwich on a couple of occasions. Our Spaniard was my man of the match. 

I had to miss the final part of the game so I missed out on all the drama that happened in the final minutes. The canaries scored a good goal which should have been dealt with by Rio but thankfully an inch perfect cross by Young was met by Giggsy who put United's title bid back on track.

I knew this game was going to be a difficult one. Norwich are no pushovers at home and in fact they only lost to Arsenal, Tottenham and WBA at home this season. That's a very good record when considering that last year they were plying their trade in the championship.

There were plenty of positives today. De Gea probably had his best match so far in a United shirt. He kept us in the lead on a couple of occasions and was only beaten through an excellent strike by Holt. Jones was another player who had a very good performance after experiencing a dip in form in the previous weeks. At the front, however, I was a tad disappointed. Welbeck missed one or two sitters while Chicharito never looked like he got going. 

Anyway, I'm glad we managed yet another win but an even harder task is awaiting at White Hart Lane. The fact that Tottenham lost a two goal advantage to lose to a struggling Arsenal side will probably make it an even harder game for our players. Tottenham will probably be out to vent today's frustration and answer their critics after their derby defeat. Let's hope our boys are up for the challenge. If we win that game, we'll be in a very good chance to win the league. Come on United!

p.s. Last month, just before the City FA Cup game, I laughed at Fergie's decision to bring Scholesy out of retirement and back in our side. I now feel like a complete idiot. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

United 1 - 2 Ajax

De Gea
Rafael Smalling Jones Fabio
Nani Park Cleverley(Scholes) Young(Evans)
Berbatov(Welbeck) Chicharito

Before the game I told my friends that I will watch today's game calmly with no pressure whatsoever. Yet I spent the final thirty minutes agitated in my living room while Ajax ran rings around our players. Chicharito scored a really good goal early in the game and I thought it was game over for our opponents but I was wrong. We let them back in the game and I must admit that Ajax deserved their win. 

I never felt this disappointed after a qualification. Ajax, I heard, have had a poor season in their national league so, although we fielded a young inexperienced side, I don't believe that our side should have been held with their backs against the wall for most of today's game. 

Good Goal By Chicha
At the front Berba and Chicha combined to score a real good goal but the former faded as the game grew older while our Mexican ran his socks off but to little effect. Welbeck, who was on the pitch for about 15 minutes, looked really sharp and produced a very dangerous counter attack. Our wingers failed to impress me once again. Young was poor and Nani produced two moments of magic and a handful of pure frustration. His usual self. I thought Cleverley did quite well but his fellow central midfielder, Park, looked out of place in today's position. Our defence looked vulnerable. Fabio and Rafael always look a silly tackle away from fucking a game while the central defenders were given a torrid time by Ajax's strikers. De Gea produced a world class save again today and that eventually kept us in this competition.

I'm disappointed and I hope we up our performance for Sunday's clash vs Norwich. Without Rooney and Valencia, our side lacks ideas. Thankfully our injury list is finally easing but the inclusion of 7 United players in England's side might put a couple of names on that list once again. Let's hope that does not happen. Until then we'll be facing a Norwich side which has won 5 games, drawn 4 and lost 3  at home. It will be a very tough fixture and if we play like today we won't be getting much joy against the canaries. What have we learned today? United never do it the easy way! Good night.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ajax 0 - 2 United

De Gea
Jones Evans Rio Fabio
Nani Carrick Cleverley(Scholes) Young(Valencia(Welbeck))
Chicharito Rooney

So we started life in the Europa League with a good away win. The score does flatter our side a bit because, in my opinion, we didn't play particularly well today...especially during the first half. However, although we're in the Europa League, we need to keep in mind that the sides we'll be facing are still decent sides and playing away from home will, at the very least, be a difficult task. Playing a modest Wigan side away from home is a tough hurdle never mind playing a side like Ajax at their Arena. So the idea of running away with games in the Europa league should be ejected out of our brains. 

Our worst performers today, Nani and Young, combined to unlock a resolute Ajax defence just after the break. While I have grown to understand Nani and his fluctuations in his performances, I'm still not entirely sure about Young's mental capabilities of playing for our side. He doesn't look like that player, brimming with confidence, we've seen year in year out playing for Villa. His niggling injuries obviously dampened his progress but he looked poor today. I cannot recall him dribbling past a defender, he put a couple of wayward passes and seems to have developed a side hobby, that of diving. Must improve. 

A well worked goal created by Valencia, who was on the field for about 10 minutes,  and finished by Chicharito, put United in a very comfortable position and I expect our boys to finish Ajax off at Old Trafford. The worrying thing about our second goal is that, after Chicharito put the ball at the back of the net, Valencia was immediately withdrawn. I don't think it was a precautionary move since Tony had been on the field for a few minutes. Therefore it must be an injury and let's hope it won't be a long one. Valencia has been our best player since the turn of the year and we cannot afford to lose him. 

Our defenders had a very good game. Jones got in very good positions, especially during the first half, and defended efficiently as well. Evans and Rio were as calm as glass. Fabio put in a performance similar to what we usually see from his brother, excellent on most times but a tad silly on others. De Gea had a good game.

The return of Cleverley, Nani, Young, Fabio and Jones could be a huge boost for our final run in. Cleverly needs a couple of games to return to full fitness while I expect Nani and Young to put in some extra effort in the coming matches. On the other hand, I liked what I saw from Jones and Fabio. It's been a while since Fergie had a headache over who he should play in midfield and defence  but thankfully the recovery of these players should give him that problem...which is a very much welcomed problem. 

No games this weekend and then United welcome Ajax at OT. Should be a good game that. I never felt this relaxed, when United play, during identical stages in the Champions League. My heart must be screaming "God bless the Europa League!"

Monday, February 13, 2012

United 2 - 1 Liverpool - Another Experience To Savour

I've been to Old Trafford three times before last Saturday's visit. I've seen United play M'Boro and Wigan and I wasn't impressed with the atmosphere in the stadium at all. Last year I visited the Theatre of Dreams for the game vs City. The atmosphere was intense and I was lucky enough to witness that goal by Rooney in front of my very eyes. BUT what I experienced last Saturday was something of a different level. 

Michael and I at the Bishop's Blaize
First of all, you just cannot go to Old Trafford without visiting a decent place where a bunch of United faithful meet and sing their hearts out before the game. Bishop's Blaize and Sam Platts are a couple of bars that first spring to mind and in fact we visited the former. We had to wait for 45 minutes in the looooong queue that formed in front of this bar but it was bloody worth it. I've known about this place ever since some nice chaps uploaded videos of it on Youtube. However, I never really thought about going there for a pre-match drink. Maybe the fact that you have to wait quite some time in the queue or that you have to leave your hotel early on match day, never really appealed to me. Furthermore, I always thought that when you visit OT once a year, you must make sure that you enjoy every second of the MATCH, because you won't be there the following week. I thought everything else was irrelevant. I was wrong and anybody visiting OT should go to a bar like this and be prepared to sing. If you don't know a single chant and visit Old Trafford just for the sake of it and to take half a million photographs, then fuck off to the market and waste your time there. Like I used to do. While I admit that my voice is equivalent to that of a crow,  I still sang my lungs out without causing too much ear damage to the other attendants.

The Players Looked Tiny But I Ain't Complaining
At 12.30 we went to the stadium and it was absolutely buzzing. Now, I've been to the real geographical derby last year but the atmosphere didn't hold a candle to this. The banter between the sets of supporters was quality and the Stretford End was in full voice. My friends and I were in the East Stand and, although a lot might give us that odd look just because we're 'tourists', we were the ones who got some people singing chants from our side. The occasional "sit down" could be heard every now and then so we couldn't stand for the whole match but the game as a whole was an enjoyable experience. Still, I'd love to one day STAND in the Stretford End. Last year I sat there but somehow I ended in the 'posh' area and had to endure 90 long minutes on my arse. 

Two decent goals by Roo!
With regards to the game, I honestly don't remember much. I remember the goals and the brilliant moments, obviously, but the rest is just a blur. The first half wasn't really what you call an entertaining encounter but the second half exploded with two fine goals by Rooney. Since Rooney scored the two goals, he must have won the man of the match award. Fair play to him. But I was really, and I mean REALLY, impressed by Scholesy. Holy shit that football player is immense. I don't think you can appreciate his work as much if you see him on TV. He looks like he's playing better football than he did during the past couple of years. Maybe he needed that 6 month break. What a legend. 

Another one of the best performers last Saturday was Evans who cleared everything that got in his way. He's been doing well lately so well done Johnny! Danny Welbeck is another player who is best appreciated by people who go to the stadium to watch the games. In fact I was mightily impressed by his contribution. He busts a lung for the United cause and most of his work isn't given coverage on TV. Maybe the input of a superstar like Wayne Rooney always overshadows Danny's contribution, but I honestly thought that throughout the game Welbeck played better than Rooney. Maybe it's just my opinion.

The game had everything, good finishes, great tackling, majestic cross field passes and drama. I cannot really say I realised that Suarez refused to shake hands with Evra but I saw everything that happened just after the ref whistled for half time and then full time. Although Evra, on the basis of performances, hasn't really been on my good books lately, he showed great passion and emotion in his post match celebrations and I am pleased I saw that in front on my very eyes. He's a player who encapsulates the United spirit, it's just a pity that his performances haven't been up to scratch in the last months. 

Nothing Wrong In Evra's Celebrations
Now, I'm not getting dragged into commenting too much about that repulsive twat Suarez. I just pity the fool and the fools who think that Liverpool are still a massive football team. How Dalglish handled the situation showed what a first class idiot he is and their supporters who keep blabbering about how great their number 9 is are close minded imbeciles who do not understand the utmost gravity of racist remarks. Their Yank owners had to intervene and force the club to issue an apology because otherwise neither Suarez nor the almighty 'King' Kenny would have issued an apology for their abhorrent behaviour. It's about time Liverpool FC supporters wake up and smell the coffee. Their football team is not a massive team anymore. They are a massive club, no doubt  about that, but presently their football team is not up to standard. 

The Scousers Being Escorted After The Game. What A Surprise there's a 5!
Anyway, after the game we waited in front of OT for the Liverpool supporters who were escorted out of the area by a number of policemen. Obviously, we were only there for some good banter with the scousers and as we sang chant after chant, their only response was their old and boring 5 finger salute. Last year I waited near the North Stand to see the players leaving OT and hoping one of them signs my match programme. This year, when the area was cleared by the police, we headed back to Bishop's Blaize to sing a song and drink a drink in honour of the boys in red who rarely let us down. What an experience. Yearning for more.

George and Mark Wearing Their Evra Mask With Mike

Mike and I with one of the leading entertainers at the Bishop's Blaize, Mr Miyagi. This chap is up there with Pete Boyle. In fact, I think he's better at getting the crowd going. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

United vs Liverpool

I won't be blogging after this game since I will be at Old Trafford supporting my beloved United.

I'll post a brief post on Tuesday when I arrive back home.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chelsea 3 - 3 United

De Gea
Rafael(Scholes) Evans Rio Evra
Valencia Carrick Giggs Young(Chicharito)
Rooney Welbeck(Park)

Chicha Scored the Equalizer
Football, bloody hell! United outplayed Chelsea in the first half but Chelsea got their noses in front via an Evans own goal. The Londoners played well for 6 minutes during the second half and netted another two. Their Mata scored a gem of a goal and then another own goal gave them a 3 goal advantage. At 2-0, I still believed we were going to get something out of this game but after the third goal I just gave up on our boys. I thought we were very unlucky not to get a penalty in the first half and then two own goals followed. "No luck today," I said to myself. BUT one thing I must learn is that I should never write our players off, those boys rarely let us down. Two goals by Rooney and another by Chicharito gave us an important and deserved point. It's lovely to see Chicharito back in amongst the goals after his confidence seemed to have vanished in the past months. 

I admit that the first penalty was a very soft one while the second was never a penalty and thus Webb DID give us a helping hand today. However, it still takes a lot of grit to get back to level grounds from 3 goals down. That said, Chelsea aren't the Chelsea of the last 5 years. In fact I thought they were quite poor but they got lucky with the timing of their goals. So basically I think we were very unlucky to be trailing Chelsea but we got a tad lucky with the penalty decisions. Fair enough. 

This Boy is Unlucky. When he started to look confident, this happens.
I thought all our players did well. Giggs played a blinder while our other midfielders, including Scholes, did quite well as well. I must not forget to mention De Gea's huge contribution as well. He made two world-class saves late in the game. Shot stopping is something that requires a high level of reflex. This can only be acquired through years of training. However his weak point, corner techniques, are something you learn from experience, I guess. Fergie was right when he said that our young Spaniard will be a very good keeper in three years time. While I still fear corners and crosses against us, I've developed a high level of confidence in our young keeper when it comes to long range shots. Well done David! 

The red army probably carried our boys through those difficult minutes when we found ourselves down by three goals. They were in full voice today. We did not win but I'm still extremely proud of the boys. Facebook is obviously being bombarded with comments from scousers blabbering about their old myth that Howard Webb is a red devil. But seriously, why would something like that be so surprising to them? Who wouldn't want to be part of this great football club? Haha keep blabbering. I love Manchester United :)