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Irons Hammering and Chelsea Stuttering makes Jack a happy boy

Every once in a while you’ll get a match that lifts gloom and renews portents of doom for another day. The question of doom in essence is ridiculous, relatively speaking. After all we were, before yesterday, five points off the pace, having sold our best player and performing marginally better in comparison to last season. I mean, just talk to West Ham fans and they’ll bite anyone’s hands off to swap positions with us.

But standards at United are different — a couple of days ago many of us were miffed at the handling of Serbian prospect, Adem Ljajic, by the club. A lot of strange flip-flopping public statements made a lot of people wonder if it’s the Glazer debt that’s the reason behind all this. Paying supporters deserve to know if the club is in rude or poor health. But those days of accountability have disappeared in club football, as clubs have become private entities keeping their affairs to themselves.

But yesterday was a day to be happy about. We started with a central defence more patched up than a pair of jeans on a homeless vagrant. Evra Brown Neville and Fletcher started. Then Neville limped off so we had Carrick playing in central defence. And if that wasn’t enough, we had Brown getting injured to carry on with ten men. And the remarkable thing about all this was a clean sheet. And the small fact that we scored four goals.

Maybe West Ham are actually that poor. Or maybe we are that good. Or maybe I don’t care today.

How can you, on a day you root for Man City to beat Chelsea? And jump for joy when it happens — with a mild tinge of regret that you promptly suppress.

How can you afford to complain when Blackburn, following their giant killing exploits against Chelsea in the Carling Cup, hold Liverpool to their 845024th draw of this season?

Maybe yesterday never happened and I wake up tomorrow to an alternate reality. Maybe I didn’t care if that was the case, because even if yesterday was too good to be true, the operative phrase “too good” was enough for me.

Good thing this was all true, eh?

* * *

The match as such started on a rather turgid note. There was very little of the first half I can recollect. Same missed passes, build up that could have been and things like that. I think, for a good part of the match, our midfield never really stood out, yet somehow did its job.

Darron Gibson will be held out for special praise. And not for his performance as such. At the risk of repeating myself I will invoke my earlier analogy. Watching Gibson play is like an inexperienced male having sex for the first couple of times; less of finesse or ability to ‘hold’, but shoots at the first chance. The difference here is, he shoots well.

But, if you have the talent, with experience you’ll get better at it. Hopefully Gibson goes down that road. He has an attribute none of our midfielders have, and especially in a side where we desperately need to spread the goals around, he presents a valuable outlet. Speaking of goals from midfield, another encouraging indicator has been Antonio Valencia’s return. In his career for Wigan from 2006-2009, he’s scored 7 times. For us this season, 14 appearances in, he has 5 goals. For a winger, and someone supposedly not known for prolific scoring, that’s an impressive return. Still early days, but encouraging nonetheless.

Our past three matches have scores of 3-0, 4-1 and 4-0 in our favour giving this a goal difference of +10. We are moving into familiar Manchester United territory. This has typically been the time when we come into our own, and ramp up pressure on Chelsea. We also have a favourable fixture list right till the end of January. We’re two points off now. Let’s make this count!



  1. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:10

    @Stephen: I like Drenthe as a LWB but not as a LMF. Lately he has been playing the LMF spot and for me there are better LMFers out there. As a LWB he is very good but he is not better than Evra.

  2. gator

    7 December 2009 at 19:15

    @Grognard: better than evra is that a new manchester area band :mrgreen:

  3. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:18

    @Jay wire: The only chance of Dzeko coming is if AC Milan show no interest in him. He is a life long AC Milan fan and has even told United to forget about it because if he has a chance to choose, he will choose the Italians. Having said that, if Huntelaar catches fire for Milan there is a good chance Milan will say no to Dzeko. Could we use him, yes but I personally do not think he is the be all end all as strikers go. He’s hardly prolific in my book. A good goal scorer but not a machine. Last year was a breakout year which I think he will have a problem equaling. The asking price for him is far too much and I would worry about another Forlan scenario. I am one of the few who doesn’t believe that we need another striker right now. I think the trio we have as well as Macheda are fine. What we need is an inventive central midfielder with great passing skill like Gourcuff. Although Valencia is decent at RW, I still think we would be better with Krasic at that position. Put those two players on the pitch and watch our strikers goal tally’s go up.

  4. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:27

    @Beachryan: I actually agree with you on this. Berbatov for me plays like an advanced attacking midfielder who can chip in goals but is best at holding the ball up, retaining possession and distributing beautiful finesse passes. Rooney is quite good playing on the left side and also seems to get his goals from that area. Carrick and Fletcher at the back works for me and would even be better if we get a fully healthy Hargreaves back to spell them of so that all three are well rested. But it all rests on whether we get Dzeko because without the true striker up front, it doesn’t work.

  5. Andrei

    7 December 2009 at 19:28

    Antonio Valencia at right-back for tomorrow, anyone?

  6. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:33

    @owen: Berba is so capable of playing an advanced midfield spot like Gerrard and Lampard do. It could completely redefine him as a player. Rooney can play anywhere you put him and he doesn’t seem to care. But all this Dzeko talk is really premature because I’m telling you all right now, the chances of getting him seem slim. Not impossible but slim. We can play that exact formation with Rooney up front and a Silva or Di Maria on the left side too. That’s what I would prefer.

  7. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:35

    @Beachryan: Great point. Zidane is a good comparison for what his role is on this team. We all need to forget the role he played for Spurs and Leverkusen and just accept in the advanced midfield role that he plays now as a sort of Zidane or Lampard.

  8. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:38

    @Andrei: If we stack the middle of the park and cut off the supply to Dzeko and Graffite we will win or get a draw. Wolfsburg don’t exactly have an airtight defense themselves and their midfield is pretty pedestrian at best. I’m confident that the kids will perform decently, even if we lose, but I don’t think we will.

  9. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:40

    @Red Ranter: I still think Fergie was hiding behind the fence on the grassy knoll while the Glazer’s were taking shots from the sixth floor. 😉 😀

  10. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:43

    @owen: van der Vaart would be a great economic addition, that’s for sure. But Fergie will not go after him.

  11. CraigMc

    7 December 2009 at 19:44

    @Red Ranter: 😆 😆 Wasn’t complaining mate, but now you say about Delaet not being on our CL list – I think you might have a point 😀 . I guess SAF saying he was going to use Delaet, which I took to mean in Germany, he must have meant in PL games while the others are out!

  12. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:46

    @NicoQB: The last player we need is Diarra. A one dimensional player whose role is already filled by Fletcher and to an extent Carrick and even Hargo who is better than him, is coming back soon. We need attacking midfielders, not defensive ones. Christ aren’t we all just a little bored with our defensive tendencies of late. Now you want to add to them? I’d prefer a player who has world class skill on the ball and the vision and imagination to match it.

  13. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:47

    @NicoQB: We no longer need an enforcer. Fletcher has become our enforcer and a good one at that. Hargo is coming back too.

  14. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:50

    @vanderberg: Where did you get your info because I heard Fergie say after the game that Vidic and De Laet would probably start that game and they are both not on the list?

  15. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:51

    @gator: Fair enough.

  16. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:52

    @gator: We can’t afford Aguero, especially if we get into a bidding war with the likes of Chelsea.

  17. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 19:54

    @gator: Evra day of the week. 😀

  18. NicoQB

    7 December 2009 at 19:54

    @Grognard: @Red Ranter: Ehhh, I didn’t mean that we should be looking at Diarra.

    Funny how both of you assumed we were the cash-strapped team. 😆
    Just random musing from my part there.

  19. Traverse

    7 December 2009 at 20:20

    Stan Collymore. Discuss.

    The thick as two short planks wife beafter has taken time out from his busy dogging schedule in the Wolverhampton area to claim that the Glazers have only caused £200mil of debt, and we’ve caused £400mil of it from god knows what (he hasn’t quantified)… he’s saying that the debt is why we have no defenders (oh no, not 7 injuries) and that Fergie is going to move to a different club in the summer. Also saying that we have an over reliance on Macheda and Gibson.

    If he knew any less about football he’d call it soccer, the twunt.

  20. Traverse

    7 December 2009 at 20:22

    @Grognard: From what I’ve seen he’s told Citeh to do one, but is open to a move to United if Milan aren’t interested, which I’ve seen nothing to say they are.

  21. Red Ranter

    7 December 2009 at 20:29

    A new (mini) post up. On the injury list. Feel free to let me know if you come across new ones.

  22. [OPTI]Madschester United

    7 December 2009 at 20:31

    @Traverse: hahahahahaha…Liverpool cannot win without the cat-paw collymore

  23. Grognard

    7 December 2009 at 23:11

    @Traverse: That’s the key. Milan said about a month ago that they were interested but now Huntelaar has started to score and if he continues, they will probably stick with him and not go for Dzeko. He has turned down United also saying he preferred to go to Milan, but as we no, Fergie does not like to take no for an answer and will probably pursue him anyway. Personally, I hope Milan goes for him and they let Huntelaar go because I am still adamant that Huntellar is the better striker if given the right team and opportunity to best utilize his skill set.

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