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Manchester United Fixtures

Did Fergie Bottle It?

This was written by one of our contributors (Ashley Keet) over at Soccerlens, but I thought it would be a better fit here. Enjoy!

It’s been a couple of days now since the final and despite attempting to stay away from as much post match reaction as possible i havent been able to escape the usual finger pointing and “what if” statements that follow a bad result. What if Giggs’ goal was given? and who actually was the better side? In truth both sides were poor and neither really deserved it but i couldnt help but come away feeling let down, not by the players but by Fergie…

He has done a cracking job in winning the premiership back this season and i can’t wait to see this team progress under his management over the next few years but i can’t help but wave that finger of blame in his direction for Saturdays result. I just think that he bottled it!

This season our game has been about fast attacking football, much like the all conquering sides of the 90’s and it has been a joy to behold. Why then did we go out attempting to replicate Chelsea’s approach to the game on Saturday? I honestly believe that we are a better side than Chelsea and if we had taken the game to them it could have been so different. At best we had 2 or 3 men committing themselves in attack at any one time and Scholes and Carrick hardly left our half. There were actually alot of good performances though; Rooney was giving Essien a torrid time, Rio and Vidic were excellent and i thought scholes was popping the ball around well but they seemed afraid to really take the game to Chelsea and break the shape at any point.

All the time the game was played in that manner it was always going to suit Chelsea and whilst we had our chances i always fancied them to score eventually. I cant help but think if we had commited more men forward and opened the game up a little we would have had alot more joy. I just don’t think Chelsea’s defence (especially with the absence of Carvalho) would have been able to live with us if the game had become stretched. Players like Giggs’ and Ronaldo never even got started due to the tempo of the game.

Ultimately i just believe that we had to go out and attempt to play the game the way we wanted in order to utilise our strengths and all we did was play the game in a manner that suited theirs.

Still, if we were offered the premiership alone at the beginning of the season, i’m sure we’d have taken it… It’s nice to once again be defending it rather than chasing it..! Roll on 07-08!!



  1. Ahmed Bilal

    21 May 2007 at 22:09

    Tactically, yes, I think Fergie could have done things a bit differently but to be honest a) Fergie’s strenth is NOT tactics and b) we could have won with the tactics we were using.

    Oh well.

    2 days to the final, and after that, peace 🙂

  2. ashleyk

    22 May 2007 at 12:29

    Yea i agree that we should probably have still won it.. its just this feeling this season that whenever we have attempted to change our system (normally rooney as alone striker and 5 in mid) we have been pretty poor… perhaps the iminent arrival of hargreaves will be key in making that system work…

  3. furrball

    22 May 2007 at 17:44

    i felt fergie bottled it at milan too, sure we were fatigued and out played but i thought his tactics which were really similar to that of saturday’s cup final had made it quite impossible to have a right go at milan, especially rooney up top alone who was snuffed out quite easily and it was a little disappointing to see fergie standing in the rain just staring into blank space instead of him ranting at the ref or urging the players on

    i think United just arent the kind of team who would slow things down and take control of the game in that way, everytime they’ve done that this season or even the ones before they’ve been in trouble, if you’ve watched enough united games, you can tell just by 20 mins of play how their day would turn out. Thankfully this season though, some of our slower, more tired performances have come through (liverpool mancity and chelsea not taking advantadge when we drew with boro)

    perhaps the squad’s just been tired and these tactics have been tailored to suit their condition, therefore it’s great to welcome hargreaves who’d give scholes and carrick more room to roam and spray their passes and add depth to the squad. Add a target man to the mix and the christmas tree 4-3-2-1(which could be easily reverted to 4-4-2 with rooney in the fray) would be perfect, i’d say berba if we can get him or mccarthy or owen. honestly i think smithy’s top class who brings his fellow team mates into the game, i thought he shld have been utilised more in Europe like against roma where his physical presence would have been a nusiance and ruffled a few feathers, something non English teams would be unaccustomed to.

    Yeah all in all, its been a wonderful season, not just because of the league title, but because of how we’ve won it with such style and aplomb, with our traditional swashbuckling free flowing fast paced attacking football, that’s Manchester United, so fergie, please dont let the negativity set in.

    Attack, Attack, Attack!

  4. karl

    22 May 2007 at 17:59

    Feel exactly the same way. What hurst more is not that we lost these games, but more in how we lost it. I don’t buy this player fatigue reason because it was the last day of the season and they had a week’s rest before the game. Besides, FA Cup final should be enough motivation to keep adrenalin pumping for weeks. I think Fergie crumbled a bit under pressure. It really hurts.
    But, I’d hate to think how much it will hurt should Liverpool beat Milan…again?

  5. Mick

    22 May 2007 at 21:06

    I don’t think fergie bottled it at all. We restricted Chelsea to very few chances, if any, and created some decent opportunities for ourself. If Park and Saha were fit we might have been able to shake things up in attack but Ole (2007 version), Smith and O’Shea were never gonna have much of an impact.

    Should Smith have started? If you can even ask that question you clearly haven’t watched his displays in the last few games of the season. He has been a passenger. Love his attitude but a good attitude is all he has to his game.

    With the players he had available for selection, Fergie picked the right team and formation. My only quibble would be whether Evra could have got the nod ahead of Heinze but Gabby played his part in completely snuffing out Drogba as an attacking threat for 116 minutes (no mean feat)

  6. furrball

    23 May 2007 at 19:30

    yeah in terms of formation and team sheet i think fergie’s got it absolutely spot on, what most of us are griping about i believe is probably the way the team was set out to play, a defensive game of containment. United just arent good at doing that and perhaps they’ve to learn when in europe and up against a team like milan

    i didnt really think smithy should have started on saturday as well based on his last few league displays, i just felt that he was awesome as a targetman against roma and perhaps he could have been utilised in Europe more often to get stuck in. I believe Europe’s different from the league, in the league it’s a lot more fast paced and physical and smithy needs more games to be back at his best. unfortunately though these would comprise of games where he’s being pedestrian.

    I think smithy’s record speaks for itself, he was always first choice at leeds and went on a scoring run when he first came to United i think it was 6-7 goals he chipped in before he got that horrific injury? That’s not bad for someone who has to contend a place on the bench with saha van nistelrooy and rooney above him in the pecking order.

    He’s got vision too, who can forget his pass for rooney to sweep past arsenal or the one he lofted over 4 defenders against watford? i truly believe there’s good reason they compare him to sparky

    yeah gabby was absolutely brilliant shackling drogba, vidic was a pillar. im hoping of more the same next season

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