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The Dark Side



Let me start off this week by saying that originally I was planning to offer up a different article that dealt with other problems regarding Manchester United. But due to the big game and glorious comeback that the lads fashioned on the weekend, I think I should stick to the match and all the talking points.

Let me start by going against the grain and congratulate Fergie and the club on a great comeback under testing conditions and adversity. It’s never easy to come back from 0-3 down yet alone against Chelsea at the Bridge, so we must all bow our heads and praise the lads for showing a lot of heart to fight back and steal a point. That Chelsea club is a shadow of itself also but still, they were at home and we had not won there in ten years. I honestly felt that despite our troubles, this game was the game for us to win if ever we were to end the Sdtamford Bridge jinx. Well we didn’t win but the draw feels almost as good as a win now doesn’t it?

Sure, two goals came from penalties and one of the penalties given was dodgy to say the least but if one is truly fair, we should have had three or four penalties given so I’ll try not to cry for Chelsea too much. In truth, I didn’t think we played too badly and the first half was really ours despite the 0-1 score line. The first ten minutes of the second half truly looked to have sunk us good as Chelsea scored two goals that came from nothing. I’m still fuming about the David Luiz goal as I do not blame Carrick for being so out of position and completely vacating the left post only to allow a cross into that area which allowed Luiz a free header. Rio Ferdinand hasn’t only lost a step and been a source of constant frustration with his injuries but now his decision making and barking of orders to others is way off the mark too. What he was doing directing Carrick to move away from the area he was marking only to have Luis score from that same spot is beyond me? And to add insult to injury his shoulder redirected a header that De Gea may just have saved.

I am tired of Rio, Evra and our flip a coin selections for RB every week. Evra was at fault again for the Mata goal because he wasn’t doing a good job marking the player who made the cross. And where was Rafael or Fabio for that matter as I can never tell which is which nor can I remember who wears which number because neither of the twins has ever had a long enough run in order to help me get used to them and the number they wear. The RB was nowhere to be found near the far post marking Mata and preventing such a goal. Our fullbacks may like to maraud forward but they are so often caught out of position defensively that it has become comical and absurd to say the least. At this point I would have preferred Bardlsey and O’Shea playing the fullback positions just because I know they would stay put and stop giving away easy crosses or not marking players who score from headers.

As for Rio, well all I can say is hang them up pal. You have been a great player over the years and a loyal servant but it is clear to me and many others that you are well past it and that you no longer can be counted on to be a world class defender alongside Vidic, who also may be past his best. As for Jonny Evans, he’s been playing better of late but still he is plagued by the dynamic duo of sins that follows him around. If he isn’t giving up a penalty and getting carded he is allowing an own goal. The lad seems a bit cursed even though his game has shown marked improvement of late.

Now let me speak more about the last match. Sad really that it takes a once retired and mothballed Paul Scholes to bring ability and presence to our game and help us play better. Indeed, Scholes has infused energy and forced better movement and discipline from the team. His passes outside of a few hiccups were very precise and his vision albeit still a bit conservative allowed us to have good possession of the ball, especially in the last half hour.

On the other hand, Ashley Young was invisible and although he was injured for a long time, I wonder how long it will be before we see the Young from the first few weeks of the season. No Nani hurts our club a lot but thankfully Tony Valencia continues to improve and give a very workmanlike effort. His ability to outplay his marker and get in a cross led to the third goal even though Rooney’s shot didn’t go in, the parry by Cech was right to Giggsy who once again defied father time and offered up a world class cross to Chicharito to head past the besieged Chelsea keeper and into the net. My God how I have missed the Little Pea play this season. Too many injuries and too much time on the bench and in the infirmary have made his second season with us seem more like the infamous sophomore jinx has struck again. No way should Welbeck be playing over him. And that is not a knock on Danny as I feel he has been really making positive strides this season. It’s just that against a top team like Chelsea, I want to see Chicharito simply for his ability to attack the eight-yard box and poach goals. One day I am hoping he adds passing to his arsenal too. Then he will truly be indispensable to the club.

As for Wayne Rooney, well he did a good job putting those two penalties away. He was much more aggressive and assured from the spot. But his overall play did not impress me. Once again his passing has seemed to betray him and his first touch at times seems to totally disappear. He looks to me like a man who is pressing and who is feeling stressed, which is hindering his overall play and decision making abilities. Basically the game is not fun for him right now and who knows when it will become fun again? Mark my words, expect another eruption of attitude from him come this off-season. He will go to the EURO’s and come back disappointed but with a full head and the first thing that will come to his mind is how he feels this club is underachieving due to our owners penny pinching ways. Once again he will threaten to leave unless we buy big and thus the soap opera will continue. I could be way off on this but lets just call it a gut feeling based on his body English of late and his look of dissatisfaction and discontentment with the manager and his team-mates over that past month or so.

As far as the result goes I think all of us took a deep sigh of relief when United scored that third goal and even a greater sigh when David De Gea made that incredible world class save off of Mata’s free kick. Top drawer stuff and a sign of what the lad has for skill. Now if he can get his eyes corrected in the off season and also find that much needed confidence and feeling of comfort for England and the English game that he is still lacking, then I believe his best is just around the corner. When we were searching for van der Sar’s replacement he certainly was not my first choice or even in my top ten choices but I kind of believe in the kid. He is definitely a shot stopper but it’s other areas of the game as well as focus and concentration where he needs to work hard in order to win me over as well as Fergie and all of Mancunia. I believe in the end he will be a success because shot stopping is the toughest of all the fundamentals in goalkeeping and he seems pretty damned good at that.

De Gea saved our collective bacon with his miraculous save as it would have been a real tragedy to come back from 0-3 down only to allow a goal from a free kick near time. We somehow seem very susceptible late in games and seem to not have the killer instinct we used to have where we would always seem to steal a win with only minutes or seconds left. Yes Chicharito’s goal was fairly late but still, we had another fifteen minutes afterwards in which to win it but we seemed content with possession, and yet Chelsea still fashioned a couple of real chances to almost steal the match. Make no mistake, this club is certainly not the club we have become accustomed too watching over the past several years where a comfort zone existed when van der Sar manned the goal and Vidic and Rio would halt anybody trying to score on us. Nowadays we resemble Swiss cheese more than an iron-clad fortress for a defence. Too many weaknesses and very little cohesion and communication at the back have left our team’s defending in a shambles and much easier to breach. And yet, somehow we seem to survive most of our battles despite ourselves.

Now prepare yourselves. This all might shock you but great credit has to go to Fergie for somehow patching the whole leaky ship together and keeping it from sinking. I have my issues with the Boss but I still think the man is a miracle worker and that he deserves nothing but praise for the job he does with this patchwork team with major holes and underachieving talent. He is incredible in instilling belief, passion and the ability to never say die and never quit no matter what. Very few teams would have faced such diversity such as a 0-6 humiliation at home to City, a loss to Liverpool in the FA Cup, humiliation at the hands of Blackburn at home and being embarrassingly knocked out of Europe by a second rank Swiss outfit, and not folded the tent and surrendered. But certainly not United and definitely not Fergie. He somehow manages to rally the troops and bring them together and believing again in their quest and in themselves when most managers would have lost the dressing room by now after such demoralizing defeats.

Please understand, I do not like or trust the man. I believe he is a bald faced liar and a willing ally of the Glazer’s but he is also a legend and the man who has brought us over 20 years of incomparable success and trophies galore. I don’t like him, I don’t trust him as it comes to the finances and transfer market business of the club but I respect the Hell out of him as a manager anyway. I don’t always like his tactics or his rotations but he is a master at doing what he does and nobody runs a marathon better than Fergie. 12 EPL titles tell me this. We will probably win the EPL again this year despite the significant challenge of City. Experience, United magic, Fergie’s luck and City’s inexperience, lack of character and brotherhood as well as arrogance will eventually bring a 13th title to Old Trafford. And it will be a title won with what I feel is the least talented United club in the last twenty years but a club that has a lot of heart and flair for the unexpected. Winning ugly is our new motto and as long as it brings a title most people are content. I certainly am not but what the Heck, I’ll go along for the ride.

Believe me when I say, no club in world football would still be fighting for a league title after suffering the rash, or should I say plague of injuries that this club has had to endure this season. Sure I believe many of these injuries are based on substandard training and fitness regiments, but that’s a topic for another day. Today I must praise the manager and the club for at least still keeping faith and still fighting for the League title when many of us, including myself had written them off. We may not play United style football like in the past but we still hold true to our hearts what it is to be United and what is most vital in order to succeed at Old Trafford, that is heart, determination and a never say die attitude. Hopefully one day the talent will follow. If only the cancer known as Glazeritis would stop inflicting itself on the club and it’s legions of devoted and ever so loyal supporters. Despite Malcolm and his brood, I say United for Life and the owners be damned for handcuffing but not completely halting this great club’s drive for twenty, not it’s beating heart.