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Mourinho’s Inter, Liga de Quito and proof that Berbatov can be happy

Much (MUCH!) has been made out of yesterday’s Champions League playoff draw and much more will be said between today and February when the damned matches actually start.

Are Inter going to be too much for United? Will Jose beat Fergie again? Will Arsenal and Chelsea fall to the Italian revolution (or some such nonsense)? Can Madrid stand the might of the great Rafa?

Please. Get a fucking grip. Two seasons ago this time around Barcelona and Liverpool were paired together in the round of 16, with FCB in blistering form and Pool dithering around like only they can. Come February it had all changed with Barcelona stuttering and literally defeating themselves while Liverpool kept their heads and took their chances.

A lot can happen in 2 months. Not just in football but also in the financial markets, which will have some, if not a major, bearing on the January transfer window. Let’s wait and see, mmmk?

As far as Inter and Manchester United are concerned, on paper, United’s major problem is stability in the center of the pitch and to be honest this is something they’ve struggled with for a couple of years now. If they can just keep the right players fit by the time February rolls on it should be OK, barring that a signing in that department surely can’t hurt, although I doubt that we’ll be bringing anyone in for that position.

On to more important, and certainly more pressing matters. Red Ranter and the majority of readers here will disagree, but tomorrow’s Club World Cup final against Liga de Quito is far more important right now than wondering whether United can get one over Inter (and if I remember correctly, Fergie took the Premier League title from Jose last time around and barring the one-off FA Cup final, took 4 points from their home and away games, so I’m pretty sure it’s advantage Fergie at the moment).

Liga de Quito are a step up from Gamba Osaka and like these events are, far more motivated than United for tomorrow’s game. It will come down to minimising mistakes and playing to our strengths, or if all else fails we can ask Rooney to kick them. Or something.

Fingers crossed, Berbatov comes off the bench in the 70th minute, scores a goal and then stands in a corner with the ball holding off the Mexicans in his final stand on Japanese soil.

Speaking of the Bulgarian, have you ever seen the lad this happy:

Finally happy in England...

Didn’t think so. Will be back tomorrow for the match thread, and on Monday with a look ahead at life after the Club World Cup.



  1. Nelson

    20 December 2008 at 16:20

    I agree with u redranter.a lot can change between now and february. Lets hope it will be a change for the better after a not so good performance in the first half of the season. I also hope tosic agrees personal terms otherwise i know that we will land him.finally i want to ask any of u guys if you think its a good idea to send manucho out on loan to le harve.

  2. Patrick

    20 December 2008 at 16:49

    That was hilariously vague. There is nothing that can be known. Just play to our strengths and minimize weakness. No wonder why there’s a writing contest.

  3. Ahmed Bilal

    20 December 2008 at 17:32

    @Patrick: would suggest that you read the sentence before and the sentence after, and try to connect the dots. If all else fails send me your address and I’ll send you a coloring book 🙂

  4. Traverse

    20 December 2008 at 17:46

    I’ve got some crayons going spare, but only if you promise not to eat them.

  5. Patrick

    20 December 2008 at 18:02

    Is it a coloring book of football kits? Hull City would be tricky.

  6. john freakin' o'shea

    20 December 2008 at 18:26

    @Ahmed Bilal: i want one too 😀

  7. R

    20 December 2008 at 18:37

    Chants of- champions of the world- would be nice to keep warm in the coming cold…

  8. Luis Gomez

    20 December 2008 at 18:48

    😆 By february Dimitar is going to be on fire, so thats a huuuuge boost for United!! if i had to name a few players that could create some major problems….. Zlatan ( who i think is the only serious threat) and Maicon. yes thats it!!

  9. gator

    20 December 2008 at 19:12

    Is that berbas christmas card. merry christmas to you too. :mrgreen:

  10. RedAllTheWay

    20 December 2008 at 19:52

    @Nelson: dat woznt redranter. it woz ahmed bilal :mrgreen:
    i hope we dnt flop against inter. we shuldnt be scared. the world should fear us 👿

  11. RedAllTheWay

    20 December 2008 at 19:53

    i fink this year is our year yet again. we ave already played da ‘big 5’ away while chealsea stil need 2.
    things r lukin up 4 us

  12. Grognard

    20 December 2008 at 19:55

    Yes ahmed you are very right, a lot can happen in two months, but a lot has not happened in the past four months because United have stagnated and put putted their way through the season like the Big Engine that couldn’t.

    This is not a slight on you so don’t take it this way but too many supporters of this club sit back and have an incredible amount of faith and patience that all will be corrected and all will be well because they have this notion that fergie is some kind of God or miracle worker and that he is incapable of mistakes or losing out. RING! RING! RING! Wake up everyone, he is not a God and he is not immune to losing. Yes we are a great club……on paper. What we did last year is history. This is a new year and frankly, this team is not as good anymore despite having virtually an unchanged roster. Bottom line is players get older, they get injured, disharmony and lack of hunger sets in and the manager ages and mellows with time. All these factors can contribute to a sudden and dramatic fall of the mountain top.

    Yes we are spoilt and we expect success from the team and Sir Alex, but lets look back over the twenty years that he has been at the helm. In twenty years we have won ten EPL titles. That means there were ten years where we didn’t win. HMMM? In twenty years we have won just two European Cups. That’s an amazing eighteen years where we won shite in Europe except for that Cup Winners Cup (Oh joy, oh woopy ding). We have won five FA Cups in twenty years while failing to win it fifteen times. Now if you ask me those are great achievements for the club. But it hardly paints a picture of sure fire guaranteed success that some of you think is preordained to happen every season, because faith in Fergie will pull us through.

    Fergie is without a doubt the single greatest manager in football history. And yet, he hasn’t won every year and has not been unbeatable. That is the nature of the beast. There are nineteen other teams that are determined to beat him every year and 31 other teams dedicated to the same goal in Europe. Frankly the odds against winning every year are astronomical. The team is virtually unchanged because frankly, the owners could not afford to spend 70 or 80 million to fill the clubs weaknesses. So the scrounged and manged to buy Berbatov. Well, he didn’t solve the clubs problem on the left side, or the lack of grit and class in the middle of the midfield. This club has also had a change in philosophy and style over the past few years because frankly, all that matters to Fergie is winning in Europe. He has adopted an Italian style and mentality which is based on slow cautious play and preparing the team for a battle of attrition rather than a shootout. This style has soaked in and has destroyed our famous run and gun style of play. It’s sad and its terribly unattractive but it won Fergie that oh so elusive European Cup. And he wants one or two more before he retires. Problem is does he have the players to do it and does he have the assistant coach who can bring out the best in his players? I honestly don’t know.

    A lot can happen in a few months but also, nothing can happen too. Personally speaking, I honestly believe we will beat Mourinho and Inter despite Mourinho’s dominance over Fergie in the past and despite the fact hat Inter are a good side. Frankly, the Big Four from England have ruled the European game for the past two years. United, Chelsea and Liverpool play the tight boring and plodding Italian game better than the Italians do. This will be a very tight affair that will probably end up 0-0 1-0 for us in the end. No I would not be surprised if Mourinho knocked us out but I am starting to see the bright shine of the Special One wearing off a bit. He got canned at Chelsea and his time at Inter hasn’t been that impressive despite the team being in first. Personally, Inter looked a better team under Mancini.

    Fergie has built this team and it’s style to bore us through to the final in Europe. And because of this dedication to that competition, we suffer greatly in the EPL because we cannot readjust our play from game to game. English football calls for a different style but Fergie has kept things the same. So, we keep our fingers crossed and hope we can win in Europe because I don’t see us playing the style we need to play in order to win the EPL. Then again, the January transfer window could inject soe much needed blood and energy to this team. But i doubt it. The Glazer’s are paupers and it’s time that all of us came to the realization that financially, we are no longer in the top four.

  13. colver

    20 December 2008 at 20:23

    May I just laugh at City’s expense as they languish in the relegation zone!
    Poor Robinho!

    No doubt there are weaknesses in our team but you can say that for every team in the world. Defensively we are as strong as anyone (although my sincere hope is that in the Champions League we play Brown as good as Rafael is he is young and just one defensive slip could cost us the tie) and if we do not concede we have a great chance of going through as we have the players to score over 180 minutes against any team in the world.

    Personally I feel Rooney is more dangerous in Ronaldo in Europe as good teams can mark Ronaldo out of the game, while Rooney is so strong and aggressive that the softer European defences cannot handle him when he is on fire. Also I feel if we manage to successfully integrate Berbatov in the team (the BIG challenge of 2009) that would help our chances greatly (although so far he has disappointed me greatly in the big games).

    Our central midfield is a potential liability. Carrick has proven quality although a bit lightweight defensively (memories of Milan 2007) and I believe Fletcher will get found out at this level. Judicious use of Scholes is still required as his ball retention is excellent and while he plays it safe that is what we need in away ties. This could also be Anderson’s year to shine in Europe although it seems he is still at the back of the line in Fergie’s pecking order.

  14. Ahmed Bilal

    20 December 2008 at 21:40

    Were it not for Hargo’s unfortunate injury (who might not play 50 games a season even when fit but a good 20-30 games from him can mean a lot), we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  15. Grognard

    20 December 2008 at 22:29

    Liga de Quito are a tosser side that would get pummeled 98 out of 100 times if they were to play us on a level playing field. The fact is that their trip to Japan was much shorter than ours and their domestic schedule is far less fatiguing than ours is when you include all other cup competitions.

    We have so much more class than these muppets that the score shouldn’t even be close. With that said Fergie will set things up with his usual cautious approach and that alone will allow the opponents a better than normal chance to defeat us. How many world class or even international stars does this South American pretender have? None I imagine. Now how many do United have? Oh about a dozen combined at least. Barring the jet lag concern, and it is a valid one, we should walk all over these tossers by 3-0 or 4-0. But Fergie will find a way for us to struggle to a 1-0 win. I will be totally shocked, pissed off and befuddled if we were to lose this game. That won’t happen. They will need luck and the Hand of God to beat us. Only we can beat ourselves. Play 90 full minutes and this is a guaranteed win. I’d like to say it’s in the bank but banks aren’t so reliable these days. 😆

  16. Grognard

    20 December 2008 at 22:32

    OOPS! I called them South Americans. Hell they are so fucking obscure that I forgot they were from Mexico. Even worse for them. Mexico’s league is one step above MSL. 😆

  17. Rd

    20 December 2008 at 22:47

    @RedAllTheWay: This isn’t really addressed to you, but what’s with spelling words with “th” as ‘f’? Is it meant to sound cooler or something? This is a dig, I’m actually genuinely curious.

  18. Rd

    20 December 2008 at 23:06

    *Sorry I meant “isn’t” in my above post.

  19. Craig Mc

    20 December 2008 at 23:26

    @Ahmed Bilal: That was a bit uncalled for Ahmed 🙄 .

  20. Craig Mc

    20 December 2008 at 23:28

    @Nelson: If Tosic is throwing his toys out of the pram before he has even signed for us, then I think we should abandon signing him. We have enough temperamental babies in Man United prams already. Toss off Tosic.

  21. Nick

    21 December 2008 at 01:28

    @Grognard: Correction, they’re from Ecuador, which i can assure you is in South America.

    Now as for their entire season and the whole fatigue thing, remember that they play in the Copa Sudamericana and the Libertadores, both of which involves regular long haul flights across the continent and sometimes as even as far afield as Mexico. Their fatigue shouldn’t be discounted, just as their jet leg shouldn’t be either, both United and Liga will be suffering.

    As for the team themselves, they’re not spectacular, they’re not as good as the Sao Paulo team that beat Liverpool (but were heavily thrashed) back in 2005 or whenever it was that they played in the Club World Cup. They’re sold their two best players, one is now in Mexico and the other is in lower reaches Spanish football i believe.

    I don’t think they should be discredited off hand and just because people haven’t seen 30 Ecuadorian league matches this term doesn’t mean that they’re rubbish and United have nothing to fear. They’re much better than the spirited Gamba Osaka. I just hope that United and Liga play with the same verve and open attacking thrill that United and Osaka did during the second half of the previous match.

    I’ve obviously going for United, we do have more match winners and overall quality than Liga, but i think it’ll be a tough match, one that United will need to go into with full dedication and concentration.

  22. Patrick

    21 December 2008 at 02:15

    @Craig Mc: I’d say it was pretty well called for. I did call his post vague and uninformative. I don’t retract that, but I do expect some stick. 😀

  23. Grognard

    21 December 2008 at 06:01

    @Nick: You can’t even trust the media. I read online earlier that they were from Mexico. Jeez! 🙄

  24. Grognard

    21 December 2008 at 07:16

    @Nick: I’m sure they are better than Gamba but then so are United better than the team that showed up a few days ago. If they put their minds to it they will beat this Ecuadorian side easily. They may be champions oF South America but for me, that’s not saying much since nearly every great South American player is presently playing in Europe. The overall quality of South American domestic football is probably no better than Serie B at best. Sure United need to respect them but short of beating themselves and further effects from jet lag, they should win by at least two goals. I’d be a lot more concerned if this team was from Argentina or Brazil.

  25. UnitedUnited

    21 December 2008 at 08:45

    @colver: Great comment mate. Liked your optimism. 🙂 Ronaldo can be marked out of the game. Precisely and that will take two players atleast – tight marking. That will make way for some space in the middle. But then with Anderson blowing hot and cold, Fletch not clearly upto the mark and Scholes getting old, I guess its upto Carrick. But the formation that fergie employs in the CL games, we could get through. Barca are a stronger attacking team than Inter and we held off their threat twice, although they were having problems aplenty. So I guess there shouldnt be much of a problem if we decide to put ten men behind the ball and counter attack. Rooney and Ronaldo on the counter attack that is. But no matter what, it sure will be one hell of a contest.

  26. Craig Mc

    21 December 2008 at 10:55

    @Patrick: 😆 😆 😆 , that’s good then Patrick. Glad you weren’t offended 😀 .

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