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Manchester United Make History As World Champions


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Rooney scored the only goal of the game in the 73rd minute and Van der Sar denied Quito with quality saves to crown Manchester United as World Champions and officially the best club football team in the world (we already were, but it’s nice to have FIFA and UEFA bowing down to us, don’t you think?).

This was a much-improved Manchester United performance and against a spirited Liga de Quito side who gave the European champions a run for their money and were it not for Edwin van der Sar’s brilliant keeping, might have tied or even gone on to win the game.

It was just as sweet to see Arsenal and Liverpool battle to a draw at the Emirates a few hours later. The result now leaves United with two games in hand to Arsenal (a point behind and Liverpool (7 points ahead).

Realistically speaking winning those two games in hand will give United a leg up going up against Liverpool in the reverse Premier League fixture at Old Trafford, and if Chelsea draw or lose at Goodison Park the title race is well and truly open and, dare I say it, there for the taking for the World Champions.

And before I sign off, some food for thought – we are quick to criticise our players when they fail to live up to our impossibly high expectations. At times like these it’s only fair to stand up and salute the professionalism the team has shown through this (to some quite pointless) competition and the way key players (Rooney, Rio and VDS came to mind but the rest did their part as well) stood up and did the job for the club – the same players (Rooney and VDS especially) who have gotten much stick for their less than stellar performances this season.

Bring on Stoke and Boro, and hopefully the WORLD CHAMPIONS can turn it around in the league and take the title third year in a row.

Note: You can read the full match report by the excellent Tom Clark, or follow the discussion in the match thread.

540 Comments

540 Comments

  1. Grognard

    28 December 2008 at 18:53

    @RedDevilEddy: And you don’t think our anemic offensive output is eventually going to betray us against opponents. So far we have been winning most of the 1-0 games. But when we can’t score, how long will it be before we end up losing 1-0 games or just dropping more points by drawing 0-0 or 1-1?

  2. UnitedUnited

    28 December 2008 at 18:53

    Boy, I am number 500!!

  3. gator

    28 December 2008 at 19:09

    citeh are soooooo massive that they cant be bothered to win a game. hahahaha

  4. UnitedUnited

    28 December 2008 at 19:09

    @Grognard: Shit!! You beat me to it. Although I agree with your comments Grog. Berbatov was brought to make what was supposedly a jigsaw puzzle with one missing piece, complete. But then what has happened is that the strike force has been appalling this season. Although we have been creating a truck load of chances, our finishing seems to be poor. Now, the inclusion of Berba has rendered the magical trio of Tev-Rooney-Ronaldo, “ineffective” for lack of a better word. I attribute this lack of scoring/finishing ability to the time taken by Berbatov to settle into this club. Ofcourse, it can be said that Fergie has a hand in this when he perhaps asked him to playmake than play off the shoulder of the last defender. In my view, Berba has been very good as a play maker. But then, was he bought for creating chances for others or for scoring, remains the question. If the guy is good at play making, but is really an out and out striker, then doesnt it speak volumes of his ability? Fergie must be really having a grand scheme in his mind, if he is seeing that his ploy isnt working and that Berba has effectively killed the goal scoring machine that the magical trio was. But if fergie is still persisting with this approach then maybe, he sees something that we dont. Something that has convinced him that this lack of Goal scoring form until the 84th minutes against Stoke, and something similar against LDQ is only the lull before the storm. So I guess, unless Berba settles fully into whatever role he has been assigned and if that role is defined clearly, then I guess we will be back firing on all cylinders. Berba traditionally has scored more goals post Christmas than he has before it. But then it will be fool hardy to expect him to repeat that again, if he continues to play as deep as he is doing now. On a side note, Berba was brought on as a sub in the Stoke game. Was this because he was being rested after that virus or was it because Fergie has started to realize that he is better off with the magical trio operating. Or am I being far fetched and fergie has turned senile? Is this really the lull before the storm? I hope so!!

    Red Ranter – One suggestion. the writing competition was for a month. It was announced more than 10 days ago? If there hasn’t been any activity since then, then why hold the competition for so long? Surely people who really want to write wont write for more than a week. I know that writing a good article wont take more than 2 days even if you do all the research in the world. The blog is getting boring, let someone take the mantle as soon as possible. Red Rants devoid or almost devoid like this, of activity for a month, is not something all of us would look forward to.

  5. gator

    28 December 2008 at 19:09

    damn i spoke too soon

  6. gator

    28 December 2008 at 19:11

    city are celebrating a draw with the bottom club like they won the world club cup.

  7. Grognard

    28 December 2008 at 19:18

    @UnitedUnited: I see what you are saying mate but Berba has never been the problem. Fergie is to blame for the setup and style we play and playing Burba far out instead of in the box isn’t exaclty going to net him more goals. What this team needs is more creativity from midfield. Anderson has given us this over the past few weeks or so but Fergie still feels like sitting him down.

    I also agree with you on the writing competition except I think the reason for the delay is because Red Ranter is on holidays and because he cannot take the time to evaluate the entrees.

  8. antsBoy

    28 December 2008 at 19:21

    @gator: grrrrr…u did mate πŸ˜•

  9. Gabriel

    28 December 2008 at 19:23

    @gator: In all honesty, that game wasn’t half bad and had a thrilling end too. The game was open and when the teams in the PL play open footy, it is always interesting to watch. It really pisses me off when every other team decides to park the bus against us, home and away!!! I mean, they don’t do the same against liverpool, that’s why the scousers are having a good run. If we went to Newcastle, I bet u they would have parked the bus and defended like their lives depended on it. πŸ™„

  10. Gabriel

    28 December 2008 at 19:25

    YAY!!! I got a comment published, after weeks of trying!! I was beginning to think RR had a vendetta against me πŸ˜›

  11. Craig Mc

    28 December 2008 at 19:35

    @Rd: Good Lord Rd, your the confusing one mate πŸ˜† . You were saying last night that Nani (particularly), and Ronnie too in his present form this season are not contributing to the United cause. I am sure as others on the blog will testify I didn’t mistake you on that. Today you are saying they are of VALUE to us, and that if they go they will weaken the team – what’s all that about?. I don’t understand why you don’t get where I am coming from mate. An international player, which Nani is, needs regular first team football. Especially when a player is in a run of bad form they need to get some REASONABLE playing time, and Nani might as well not be there, the amount of on field opportunity he is getting. What is it Rd – like every 4 or 5 games he might get a chance, and then sometimes only as a sub. To develop the player needs more football time, and OK if as you say he is not good enough to merit a place in the team, then how the hell can you in the same breath say that the team will be weakened if he leaves. I don’t get your psyche Rd, and I am not just trying to be disagreeable with you mate – honest.

    Regarding Ronnie, I don’t know if you attend United games or not, especially away games, but Ronnie is roughed up like nobody else in the United team, and that is a fact mate. Every PL opposition crowd are a pack of feckin wolves, baying for one of their players to do him serious harm, and cheering every time one of them seeks to maim him. That sickens me mate, and yes I am there most of the time witnessing it. The United faithful who used to GET Ronnie through every game when opposition crowds were spitting and foaming at the mouth on him, are timidly quiet this season. Yes, he has a rep for diving, but I am sorry he doesn’t and hasn’t needed to dive this season, because he is hacked down persistently (MOSTLY FROM TACKLES COMING FROM BEHIND), which last time I checked were illegal, and yet the ref’s allow them persistently on Ronnie. I don’t care if our team is weakened, not when a player is treated and vilified as Ronnie is. If he stays in PL, we will have an Eduardo on our hands – sorry but that is how I feel. If you don’t agree fine. Besides MANY UNited fans have thrown Ronnie to the wolves, and have eaten him up themselves in their attitude this season. So apart from our team being weakened, you tell me Rd what is in it anymore for Ronnnie to stay with us in the present climate. I love Ronnie, I loved what he did for us the last two seasons, but I think many United fans, unlike you Rd, want the lad gone. So there you have my explanation, like it or not mate.

  12. Craig Mc

    28 December 2008 at 19:40

    @Gabriel: Woah Gabriel mi man, don’t use morethan one smilie, because the fault with the system is related to use of smilies. Or did you know that already Bro πŸ˜† ?

  13. Craig Mc

    28 December 2008 at 19:46

    @Mr.Muhozi: Give over moaning mate πŸ˜† , the site is not INACTIVE, it’s just that all the activity is situated in the one thread – haha.

  14. Nino

    28 December 2008 at 19:48

    @Rd: No I realise that won’t ever happen but hey, we can fantasise about it at least!

  15. Nino

    28 December 2008 at 19:56

    If Liverpool are still top come March then I’ll eat my hat and take them seriously, otherwise they’re simply mere pretenders. Chelsea maybe might be out of it this year as they look fucked at the moment. Arsenal disappeared without trace a long time ago. Man Utd I hope and pray can close the gap on the dippers to a point by winning their three games in hand – and then when the scum come to OT we’ll hopefully fuck them over there and take pole position during the home straight aka Squeaky Bum Time lol. Well that’s how I hope it’ll work out anyway…

  16. Gabriel

    28 December 2008 at 20:01

    @Craig Mc: Just read that on one of the comments actually…

    What’s going on Craigy? It’s like the rest of the league have signed a waiver to only play for 0-0 draws with United, home and away, this season. I mean, every team we play against nowadays just settles for a draw and rarely show any attacking ambition, what’s that about? Look at Villa and Arsenal; Villa played an open game and tried to score against Arsenal but when we went there it was another case of 8-1-1. What makes it more annoying is they are not doing the same against the freakin scousers (Newcastle today: wanna bet when we go there next yr, they’ll defend with ten men?).

    Still though, it’s not like we’ve been successfully trying to overcome this tactic. There is a distinct lack of regular forward, incisive passes from our midfield and that is not good, especially against two walls of four!! We need our midfielders to be more adventurous against these sort of teams, at least for the simple fact that if we give away possession, the opposition would give it right back due to their lack of forward players.

    I’m hoping Boro come with an attacking mindset tmz. Fergie has been trying to sweettalk Southgate into playing an open game, but as he is in the relegation zone, I doubt he would play that way. Although, the boro do like to attack, maybe we might be in for a lively on tmz afterall… here’s hoping. πŸ˜€

  17. Gabriel

    28 December 2008 at 20:11

    @Nino: I seriously wouldn’t write off the scousers this year. The one thing they have going for them is that other weaker teams around them play an open game at their respective homes and most times, a bit defensively at Anfield. This is why they have done well away from home and struggled a bit at home. This, unfortunately, is not the same for us. Every team has just given up on playing proper footy with us but just adopt spoiler tactics, home and away. The team that actually surprised me doing this was Villa. Look at the difference in their tactical setup btw when Arsenal came to their stadium and when we came there. Same goes for every other team.

    If the rest of the league keep under-rating the scousers while reserving their season’s best defensive performances for us, then it will be a bumpy road to May. Same goes for Chelski and maybe the Arse. πŸ˜•

  18. dan(u-ol)

    28 December 2008 at 20:12

  19. Craig Mc

    28 December 2008 at 20:58

    @Gabriel: Well Gabriel I really dont think its the parking of the bus business to be honest. I mean if we all speak the truth, like we should, we cannot say that we haven’t had CHANCE after CHANCE after CHANCE of gaping goal opportunities. How many times has Rooney, Berba, Tev, Park etc etc etc missed SITTERS. I don’t blame the oppo WALLS, I blame the total ineptitude of our strikers to actually hit the target. O how I wish we had somebody WITH COMPOSURE, then Gabriel mi man, we would be SINGING πŸ˜† .

  20. Craig Mc

    28 December 2008 at 21:01

    The scousers are flying, and this really builds up confidence and a feeling of invincibility, until somebody gives them a HIDING, and then we will see. But who will knock them off there perch eh?. Not us, if our strikers don’t bloody wake up and smell the trophy losses πŸ˜† .

  21. Gabriel

    28 December 2008 at 21:42

    @Craig Mc: True, the strikers are not as clinical as they should be, however, they cannot bear the grunt for the whole TEAMS’ inability to create and convert chances. Part of the blame has to go to the team setup and blunt midfield.

    This team for the last two years have been playing an unconventional 4-2-4, where we had two deep lying midfilders and 4 forwards who interchanged in attack. Mostly, the duo of rooney and tevez were there to create space for Ronnie and chip in with a few when the opportunity arose. This they did well and we saw Ronnie shine as the focal point of our attack. Unfortunately, this stunted the goal-poaching and clinical abilities of the Roovez as they were, majority of the time, having to play from deep to create chances as the midfielders wouldn’t. This is a habit that they got used to and with this new formation are trying to exorcise.

    Also, with regards to this new formation, we are supposed to be going thru the middle – thus having an attacking midfielder to create opportunities for our strikers – and also from the wings – thus having strikers positioned in the area to receive crosses. This is where the problem is, we still employ two deep lying midfielders, even in games where the opposition sit back and defend. Hence, our strikers, instead of concentrating on the penalty box and poaching, are having to come deep to create play themselves. This is wrong, as they would not be in dangerous positions to convert chances and even when they manage to get into the box, the chances that you speak about will be mostly half-chances, nothing concrete!! This is due to no concrete supply and attacking support from midfield.

    I would use Rooney as an example. Let’s consider his form under Capello for England and his form for United. Although he has begun to put in goals recently for United, it is obvious that he is more dangerous/clinical for England because he doesn’t have to play deep and create stuff, rather feed on the supply from midfield and convert chances. Look at when we have played with a genuine attacking mid this season (someone who actually hovers in and around the penalty area), we have managed to create and score plenty, why? Because the forwards are where they should be and not marauding around the half-way line. If we were creating genuine chances, believe me, our strikers would convert them. The problem is we are not and as we don’t have the most clinical strikers, it’s even a bigger problem as those half-chances remain as they were, half-chances. 😐

  22. RedDevilEddy

    28 December 2008 at 21:55

    @dan(u-ol): Thanks for the link Dan. Ive stated my expectations… πŸ˜€
    Are you playing many live matches? Cause if you are, I will tell you a secret that will make you unbeatable. Of cource, the people that know the secret can break down it down and ruin your tactics, like me( πŸ˜‰ ), but I dont think 3 million people know it. Just ask if you wanna know it and Ill play a game against you so you can see. Cheers.

  23. RedDevilEddy

    28 December 2008 at 22:01

    @Craig Mc: Know it. Our strikers are suffering from a syndrom called “impossible to score goals”. Except from Tevez, he could have scored two against Stoke hadd it not been for a blind assistant ref. πŸ™‚ I really dont know what to do. Buying a new player is not the answer. Neither is getting rid of Wayne, Tevez and Berba. I still believe that Rooney and Tevez are the perfect partnership up front for us, with Tevez`s brilliant positioning and Waynes ability to create something out of nothing. Berba really doesnt add anything new to our attack, at least not anything helpful. So why play him? We made the mistake with Veron, better not make it again. Every player needs to find their feet. Tevez is for me our best striker at the moment, while Wayne is colosely behind. Tevez has got some goals lately and created many chances for us. And Rooney is very inconsistent, but has done magic for us lately. So, bench Berba for Boro and try out Tevez, Ronaldo, Nani and Rooney again. The totempel of our succes last season…

  24. dan(u-ol)

    28 December 2008 at 22:42

    @RedDevilEddy: i cant play right now, but PM me the secret, please.

  25. Rd

    28 December 2008 at 22:45

    @Craig Mc: Lol, I never said Nani was of no value to the team, I just meant that he hasn’t been contributing anything when given the chance and so I don’t see why everyone keeps clamouring for him to play. I’ll definitely love to still have him here. On him meriting a run in the team, I believe the squad should be selected based on form and right now judging by the time he’s played(bar Celtic) he hasn’t been that good. I’m not advocating him to be sold, I just don’t see why he should be playing. If Fergie plays him again(which i think he should against Boro) and he does well, then he should get a run to carry on that form.

    On Ronaldo, I actually agree and sometimes I feel sorry for him, If i were him getting hacked every game I’d have probably punched a player already, but I still think he got himself into this with his serial diving even before he became as huge as a threat as he is now. Thats probably why refs are hesistant to protect him cus now they probably feel they can’t tell when he’s being seriously fouled or when he’s play acting again. Sad but true.

  26. Nino

    28 December 2008 at 23:16

    @Gabriel: Well that is part and parcel of being the defending champions. Every team raises their game when they play the defending champions the following season as it’s their cup final, which is why it is so hard for a team to retain the Premier League title, so kudos to Man Utd for having done so last year and in years gone by. We truly are the best English team of the modern era, no question!

    Aston Villa probably genuinely believed that they were as good as or even better than Arsenal in their current state, hence their fearless, open approach against the Gunners. We have had the Indian sign over the Villans in recent years, which is why their setup was different when they played us as they probably feared yet another battering at our hands.

  27. Gabriel

    28 December 2008 at 23:50

    @Nino: I know mate… the unfortunate thing is these teams don’t raise their overall game, rather they raise their defensive game and show no ambition to properly attack. United are versed in counter attack footy and when we come across this defensive setup, we are almost impotent. This is one of the reasons Fergie wants to play a more central, build-up play style of footy (hence Berba). The problem here is we refuse to utilise an attacking midfielder (which is vital to this approach) instead we use Berba/Roon as attacking mids and hence eliminate that threat these strikers are supposed to pose in the box, what with our wingers now actually playing as wingers.

    IMO, the solution is simple, play either Carra/Ando/Scholesy as genuine attacking mids instead of two central ones. Relieve them of their defensive responsibilities, afterall, most of these teams rarely come out of their half!! Our strikers can then actually play in the box where they should be, meeting the crosses from the wingers, poaching goals, converting chances created by the attackin mid and also they won’t be double marked as this attacking mid can distract some of the defense.

    Also, maybe we need to improve our give and go a bit. We have possession but it’s not penetrating/effective because too often we misplace passes, don’t make incisive runs or thru passes. It all might be a bit new, but that is the best way to overcome two walls of four defenders.

  28. Craig Mc

    29 December 2008 at 00:38

    @RedDevilEddy: Eddy, Eddy, Eddy πŸ˜† , Berba doesn’t add anything to our attack?????. Mate without Berba’s delicate chip over to Tevez in the Stoke game, it would have been a DRAW and not a win, because nobody else was offering anything in breaking down the deadlock. So Berba most definately added 2 points to that game for us mate.

  29. Craig Mc

    29 December 2008 at 00:45

    @Rd: True, True mate – but how many others of our players after injury come straight back in and are given a run to regain their form???? Think Ronnie, took him about 5 games to get some kind of flow, and he isn’t there yet. Same with Giggsy, Scholesy, etc etc etc. Doesn’t seem fair to me at all, but then whether people like to admote it or not Rd, Fergie has, and always will have his blue eyed boys.

    Anyone know if Terry is back from suspension for the game against us or not?.

  30. Traverse

    29 December 2008 at 00:55

    @dan(u-ol): The first thing I would do is bring back the indoor 5-a-side mode from fifa 97 (i think).. that was awesome… then i’d make it playable online :mrgreen:

  31. Nino

    29 December 2008 at 01:16

    @Traverse: Haha that was classic mate! I still have the FIFA 97 CD which I got free when I purchased my 1st ever desktop PC back in 1998. I used to score 180 degrees goals all the time in the indoor mode…. also the way the ball rebounded all around the arena whenever you missed the target was too funny!

    Man Utd v Liverpool was the match I used to play all the time in FIFA97….I remember the squad with the likes of Schmeichel, Irwin, Kanchelskis and Cantona in it lol

  32. RedDevilEddy

    29 December 2008 at 01:57

    @Craig Mc: He can have those moments of brilliance, but he really doesnt add anything NEW to our attack. Tevez and Rooney could break any defense open last season, and they still can. Its just that we dont score on the chances they create for us. Ronaldo is having difficulties with Berbatov this season, as Ronaldo is played as an actual winger. I think that if Berba hadnt joined us in the summer Ronaldo might have been playing better and we would have scored more goals. Berba does the little magic once in a while, but its kinds his place that our team gets in the situations where we need him. He still has to prove to me that he is United-quality, and some few nice touches and assists wont do that for me. We bought him to be our number nine, but he is playing like a number 8. If we needed someone to make the goals for us, I would buy Arshavin. Simple. He doesnt do what he was bought for and what we need him for, which is my biggest problem with him. I am one that gets easily impressed by players, and when I say Berba hasnt impressed me at all it should say something. 😐

  33. Grognard

    29 December 2008 at 02:39

    @RedDevilEddy: I f someone was known as a master criminal, you wouldn’t exactly get to see his talent if he was locked away in a maximum security prison. Berbatov is a true talent whose skills are being wasted inside a system that works counter to his skill set. Don’t blame him, blame Fergie. All things considered, I think Berbatov has been quite good under the circumstances.

  34. Liam

    29 December 2008 at 03:08

    @Grognard: If Berbatov wanted to play a different style he would. He’s playing in the position for us that he’s played every time I watched him at Spurs. If you go back to the transfer deadline day thread you’ll see that I said I didn’t want him because he plays behind the other striker and we already have 2 players who play there. We didn’t need a star striker. We only needed somebody to come off the bench when teams park the bus. How come we were able to break down the teams who park the bus last year and not this year? I’ll tell you and it does have to do with Berbatov. Ronaldo has now been pushed to the wings for every game due to the fact that Berbatov is playing through the middle. He has stopped coming inside which stops him exchanging positions with the strikers and due to the fact both of our midfielders seem to think playing the role of quarterback will work instead of actually getting forward the opposition can just wait for us to come to them instead of what we had last season which was the 3 forwards pulling defenders out of position and creating openings. we’d be better off giving Ronaldo the free role because on the wings he is isolated and since he is allergic to team play he will just be shut down by the defense, one way or another

  35. SHANNON

    29 December 2008 at 05:37

    Good point Liam…

  36. Grognard

    29 December 2008 at 08:27

    @Liam: This is not Berbatov’s fault. The last few games they have played without him and the team sucked just as much. When will all of you understand that this is tactical and technical issue and that nobody but Ferguson is to blame. He has created a square peg in a round hole environment and you are being unreasonable in expecting players to naturally adapt and fit in over night. And Berbatov did not play the same style at Spurs I’ve watched many Spurs games over the past two years as well, I followed Berba’s career with Bayer Leverkusen. One often thinks he is playing higher but he did not. It’s his nice finesse passing that makes one think he did. I remember many many times when he was playing deep in the box and getting to the end of ball sent in to him. If I have any knock or criticism of his play this season, it’s that he has been very tentative with the ball and rather than shoot he automatically passes. His assist against Stoke was a perfect example of what I am talking about. A goal hungry striker would have struck that ball and tried to beat the keeper, but instead, Berba passed across the box to Tevez. Unselfish but also a sign indicating a lack of confidence in his own finishing ability. This comes from a few misses and clearly not enough clear cut chances to build confidence on. Again, a problem with the system and style of play that doesn’t allow a player like that to get at least five cracks at goal a game. He’s lucky if he gets one and ecstatic if he gets two.

  37. Karl

    29 December 2008 at 09:47

    @Liam: LOL. Very, very funny…
    “…and since he is allergic to team play…”

    Compliments of the season to everyone here on RedRants.

    I just want to emphasise a point that have already been raised.
    Everybody is now moaning about teams “parking the bus” against us. But, if we can effectively play against such formations, then surely teams will have to try other alternatives? It’s not their fault for playing “boring” football. (They need to play for points). They would be outright stupid not to apply that tactic against us, knowing we have no answer for it. I believe that at the end of the day, our team is responsible for the “boring” tactic. We are suffering because of our “one-dimensional” type of play.
    To summarise, “If we want it to stop, we need to learn how to counter it”.

  38. Grognard

    29 December 2008 at 10:45

    @Karl: Very well put Karl. And that is the major problem. Fergie seems clueless on figuring out a way to do it. What was even more frustrating is watching how Liverpool was able to destroy their last two opponents with nifty ways of breaking down the wall. Gerrard’s first goal yesterday was a master class on through ball passing which United never use unless Anderson is out there. Finesse is the key and we have none. The only finesse we have other than Berbatov is of the selfish variety. Ronaldo basically passing to himself.

  39. Despicable

    29 December 2008 at 11:12

    @All, come to new post.

  40. Karl

    29 December 2008 at 11:28

    @Grognard: LOL…”Ronaldo basically passing to himself”. I have no idea of why these Ronaldo sayings seems so funny? I still like him a lot. Although I can do without a lot of his antics, I realise that it is basically a ‘package deal’.

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