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United blow chance to close gap

Before the Villa game, Chelsea had just drawn 3-3. There was all the motivation for the side to cut their lead from three to zero; separated on goal difference. The anticipation was also high among our lot; after all, we just beat sides by handsome margins with a joke of a defence. Surely the confidence was so high that we might have as well stuck in gardeners and the kitman at the centre of defence and yet manage to squeeze something out of the match.

Funny story: Saturday didn’t quite go to plan.

But while our defence, as stretched as it was (Vidic was just returning from his bout of flu) was to blame for their goal, it was the complete lack of cutting threat — actually anything — going forward that did us in.

It started with the obvious: Ferguson inexplicably going with a 4-5-1 formation at home. What was that all about? This is Villa. No disrespect to their status or their form in the league, but at home, given our record against their largely unchanged squad, we ought to have been a bit more positive. And to play like we had bags of lead attached to our feet was hard to understand. Moreso, when you have the chance to pair Rooney with Owen, a striker fresh off a red-hot display at Wolfsburg, you grab that chance with all the hands you have at your disposal — even the imaginary ones. Strikers like Owen deserve to be given the chance when they are on a roll. You don’t drop him from the starting line up immediately. It sounds a lot like rotating the side for the sake of it — which should never be the idea.

Despite all the talk about our lack of creativity and cutting edge, this season, we were capable of much better than the fare that was served up on Saturday.

Rooney started brightly only to frustrate for great parts of the game. There were also moments of desperation from him when he tried to do too much. Oh, and there was that dive! I’m not in the practice of getting on the backs of our players excessively, but I find the relative silence in the mainstream media on his dive astonishing. English star players like Rooney and that hypocrite, Gerrard, get away with a lot, I must say from the mainstream press. [This is not a rant on Rooney, although it feels like crap when one of your own players dive, but more on the double standards of the media — near hysterical reaction — when a foreign player dives.]

Also, I have to ask now: why Park yesterday? Why? I saw little point in him, and while he does very well for us as a defensive winger / wing back, Park as a winger is as useful as a blunt pencil for precision diamond-cutting.

Giggs, meanwhile, was having one of his off days. It can happen; he’s 36 years old. Can’t blame him necessarily as we can’t be expected to be reliant on him every week. Someone else needs to get that hint.

I won’t say who.

The manager later went off on one about time keeping to be taken off the refs’ hands: good idea, but we could have had all day yesterday, and still huffed and puffed. However, I’d like to agree with the other thing SAF said; that it was a bad day at the office. Having played our way through a horror injury crisis and still scored for fun over the past few weeks, I’d like to give him that benefit of doubt. Although I’m still in disbelief over our tactics.

4-5-1 at Old Trafford? Why oh why? Or as the kids, and most adults like to say these days: WTF?!

179 Comments

179 Comments

  1. CraigMc

    14 December 2009 at 19:51

    @Grognard: wE’LL I think you’ve learnt to live with much disappointment from our great club of late Grog, so a bit more from me won’t go amiss eh? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜†

  2. CraigMc

    14 December 2009 at 19:54

    @Grognard: Yeah but the majority of the other good teams that lose possession is usually AFTER they have shot at goal and had it rebound back to them , not after running to the corner flag, Oh dear nobody in the box of our lot, so kick the ball way back to Brownie or Vida πŸ˜† .

  3. Red Ranter

    14 December 2009 at 20:41

    @Grognard: It’s not defeatism in my book. I will be disappointed but I recognize that it’s not FIFA 2010 and an odd season of failure can happen and is acceptable if it’s a “reasonable” failure – based on context and my expectations. I just take disappointment better than others. I see it realistic that in life you can’t succeed always. Also, United aren’t failing because of my effort (or lack of it). It’s due to a bunch of people millions of miles away. If I’d failed due to my efforts then I’d be hard on myself and quite unforgiving.

    I just don’t place sports as high a pedestal that I demand perfection. I expend that energy on activities I do, to push myself to do better. That’s where a demand for perfection is useful to me. It’s not defeatism but the recognition that humans are not perfect. If we were failing year after year with sufficient resources I would be on their backs.

    After winning 3 consecutive titles, raging at the team for not winning the fourth one in a row is not my style of treating the club I support. I’ll be sad on the day, but I’ll move on better than most.

    This is not a slight on others, but my reaction to a season performance is more often directly related to my season expectations. I set a lower limit, below which would be unacceptable. (of course there’s no upper limit, obviously) This season anything below second place is unacceptable to me. Because I see the side good enough to finish second at least. But if we don’t finish first I wouldn’t be raging. However last season I wasn’t going to accept anything below first place.

  4. Red Ranter

    14 December 2009 at 20:46

    @CraigMc: I wasn’t referring to commenters on ROM specifically. Just fan behaviour on forums in general.

  5. Red Ranter

    14 December 2009 at 21:03

    @Grognard: This whole “Fergie will retire” palaver has been the subject of speculation for the last three years. Every year there has been the theory of Ferguson retiring in 2 years. Even Ferguson has contradicted himself. First he said he can’t say when he’ll retire. Then he said he can’t see himself beyond 70. Then, more recently, he said only ill health will see him quit.

    It doesn’t matter if we have a fantastic squad or if we had a threadbare one if Fergie were to retire tomorrow. Bayern and Real and to some extent Lyon the past 2 seasons have proven that a crap manager can destroy even a very good side. Sometimes a manager doesn’t have to be crap — merely a change in environment can affect his ability.

    Any case when Ferguson retires it’s not just him that will go. Most of the employees: from the groudstaff to the physios to the kitman to the coaching staff would have never worked under anyone at OT. Imagine that upheaval. However good or bad our squad maybe, the arrival of a new manager automatically entails we start from square one.

    The other thing is about the Glazer ownership. I think we won’t see significant panic (of the Liverpool scale) until 2012 or 2013 when the time to pay the bigger sums of money kick in. As much as the Glazers may be the anti-Christ, the interests are serviceable purely on the revenue our club makes. As long as Fergie stays — and I’ll wager he’ll be on even in 2011-12 — we’ll still be thereabouts in the league title or Champions League spot.

    The main cause of concern comes when we have to pay the principal amount in 4 installments (I think 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 correct me if I’m wrong). I suspect they’ll sell the club by then or will refinance the loan. While I remain skeptical of their actions, I think we are at least 1.5 years from getting really mad at them. Well we have been mad since they came over, but I feel wasting my energy in being mad at the ownership is never going to make them budge. Malcolm never visits OT, unlike Hicks and Gillet, and his coldly distant stand will not be affected by fan protest. Boycotting games is also never going to happen because the club will continue to perform well as long as Fergie will be there (which in my opinion is 2011-12) The real interesting part is after that. Till then I feel it’s unnecessary for me to get involved in debate about how Glazers are screwing our club. I settled into that reality when they took over the club, and I’ll get into it when the time for real change in managers happens.

    Finally, I think United are a vastly expensive brand. Honestly I don’t see the value for any owner to pump in £1b of his own money into it when the revenue from the club football is peanuts compared to other fields of business. You’ve read Soccernomics, so I don’t need to get into why ownership of football clubs is more an act of philanthropy.

    Anyway I have rambled on, but that’s part of the reason why I don’t waste my time talking about the Glazers now, and rather focus my time on the now — not out of ignorance, which is obvious I’m not from my explanation above — but it’s the football I want to watch and talk about right now.

    Anyway, gotta get back to work.

  6. Redrich

    14 December 2009 at 22:26

    @Red Ranter: Problem for me is that we are so close, yet so far.
    Just a couple of good signings and we could be back on top. It’s a fact that must be viewed at OT and so why are we left to sit and watch our team struggle through many games while the Ronaldo money sits idly by??

    When you take away the luxury of the WPOTY and replace him with virtually nothing, it’s enough to make even the most patient of us all ferment with frustration!!

  7. gator

    14 December 2009 at 22:33

    @Traverse: wow some desperate comments over there πŸ™„ its a flattering story to read i feel like a group of supermodels in lingerie just tried to get me to leave my girlfriend.

    “The consortium would also be willing to take a part-share in United if the Glazers did not want to relinquish total control.”

    this 😯 take 500mill and give them 49% keep glazers that love fergi and give him full reign but knock the debt down to a barley noticeable ammt. and game on bitches. 😈

  8. Traverse

    15 December 2009 at 01:21

    Yeah, the NOTW comments page is full of chumps. Pogba scored on his debut for the reserves tonight….

  9. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 03:13

    @CraigMc: That positively grogifying and grogerific mate. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ From now on if I ever get any BS from trolls or from guys on here who dislike my mantra, I will refer you to them and tell them that I am from now on known as MR HAPPY when compared to “Craig the Impaler”. Or is it “Craig the Knife”? Or how about “Craig the Ripper”. Yes, CRAIG THE RIPPER. I like it because he is ripping Fergie and Rooney a new asshole with his cutting comments. πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

  10. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 03:14

    @CraigMc: I love it. I no longer feel like a lone voice in the wilderness. I just hope you get some of the abuse I get just so that I don’t feel it is just personally directed at me. πŸ˜€

  11. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 03:16

    @CraigMc: I don’t think you honestly watch those clubs as closely as you do United so that’s not necessarily true, but hey, I’m with you on this, they do hang the sausage to easily when in the attacking third and for me it’s due to a lack of creative skill.

  12. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 03:26

    @Red Ranter: “I just don’t place sports as high a pedestal that I demand perfection. I expend that energy on activities I do, to push myself to do better. That’s where a demand for perfection is useful to me.” That’s because you have a life. What about me? πŸ˜€

    I know and hear what you are saying and you are making complete sense but the fact is that this team and this game means everything to millions. We can all call them lifers and losers or whatever but the fact remains they have chosen United and football to be their number one hobby and chief focus. For them the striving for success and achieving perfection is paramount. Why shouldn’t it be? Sure nobody will win forever but one must at least try. I think what is bothering me is the sense that United have kind of given up trying too hard to win and please the fans. Now it’s just about maintaing a status and selling the brand rather than attaining glory.

    Whether you like them or not Real Madrid and the New York Yankees have the attitude that they must win all the time and second place is just not acceptable. Many hate this but in truth, I admire it because I look at these clubs and the revenue stream that they create and seriously think that anything but winning it all should not be acceptable for this club because they do everything in their power to put a solid product on the pitch and win. All you can do is try and they do. I do not see us trying because the Glazer’s have chopped off Fergie’s balls and fed them to David Gill. No money, no stars, no glory. It’s that simple. I could care less about the League Cup or finishing second. United is as big as Real Madrid and the Yankees and therefore should be stacking their squad with players to ensure a realistic shot at winning everything, especially their league and the European Cup. After all, we are not West Ham or Bolton.

  13. Red Ranter

    15 December 2009 at 03:27

    @Grognard: To be fair Craig’s got his share of abuse several times. He takes it on the chin better than most of us. πŸ™‚

  14. Red Ranter

    15 December 2009 at 03:32

    @Grognard: Whether you like them or not Real Madrid and the New York Yankees have the attitude that they must win all the time and second place is just not acceptable

    I can’t talk about the Yankees and I’d prefer a comparison within the realms of football. But Madrid are a circus. They throw money around, and are obsessed with brand building more than footballing reward. And it shows with their dismal record over the last decade. Throwing money does not equate to winning. Madrid lack coherency in their approach and to compare them with us is an insult to our club. πŸ™„

  15. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 03:38

    @Red Ranter: That was a great ramble RR, I enjoyed it. I agree with you but I have a serious bug up my posterior when it comes to the Glazer’s. They make me want to be anti-Semitic just because of them. I absolutley hate their guts because I know far too much about them and how badly they have fucked up Tampa Bay and dallied in Ponzi schemes and shady investments. They are classic sheisters and they need to go. They have ruined the atmosphere atround OT, have turned the team into a cold corporate monster that cares not one bit about its supporters and have begun to ruin the on field product by slicing away at Fergie money for players. I know they are handling the loan expertly milking for as long as they can by making the bare minimum payment because the club is making them millions in money around the world.

    What bugs me is unlike the Yankees and Madrid, that money isn’t making it’s way back to the field or the fans. It’s lining the Glazer’s Swiss bank accounts and growing in interest there while OT begins to slowly burn. They’ll get out when the hammer comes down on the loans because they know a buy will show up to extricate them from having to pay the full amount because legally, they are only obligated to pay a third of it themselves. They disgust me as they remind me of Remora which are those little parasitic fish that live on sharks and survive on whatever the shark doesn’t eat. I cannot ignore them even if I wanted to and I am calling for everyone to wake up now, not in two years when it’s too late. Demand that they sell now as we need to get rid of them before it’s too late. Give Fergie a few years of peace and money to work with before he retires.

  16. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 03:42

    @Red Ranter: I’ve been here for two years mate and he has never received the BS I get. Also, until recently, he has not been as negative as I. The only crap he ever gets is about Nani. I on the other hand have ben called everything under the sun and have been accused of almost everything including being a woman. Sorry, but I am the King of Pain. πŸ˜€

  17. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 03:49

    @Red Ranter: It’s not about how they go about it because Madrid is clealy stupid because the people in charge are Neanderthals. But their intentions are not just brand building. They want to win everything but they do not get the simple philosophy that balance and buying players that blend well together as well as buying defenders too, not just attackers is the key to success. They have the right intentions but haven’t got the right formula. We’ve got the formula but our intentions are no longer sincere. It is United who are more consumed with brand building and less about improving the product on the field.

    The Glazer’s aren’t concerned if we finish third as long as some telecom empire signs on or some bank signs a shirt deal. And although the Yankees are in a different sport, I feel they are a very relevant example because they do things the right way. The money they make they put back into the team first and into the Steinbrenner vaults second. No matter how much they spend, they pay their bills and the team is never suffering on the field because they cannot afford to sign a player. Being a diehard Yankees fan and having watched them win seven World Series since I was old enough to care, how on Earth can I possibly complain about their efforts? They do everything in their power to please their fans by always fielding a great team built to win it all. For the Steinbrenner family the first goal of the NY Yankees is to win the World Series, the second is to make a profit. I gotta love that.

  18. CraigMc

    15 December 2009 at 04:26

    @Grognard: That’s because I’m arsing around being devilish sometimes, and othertimes I’m being serious, its just that folk don’t know which is which. Then I’m not at all paranoid, so if people give me landslide altercation responses to my post comments, I don’t really care – cos I love a good sabre rattling debate, and I can take the heat πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜† . So it is up to folk to be able to assess when I am arsing about and when I am being serious – so FAR only one person on the blog is very good at telling the difference – and he won’t be giving any of you any help πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜† . πŸ‘Ώ

  19. CraigMc

    15 December 2009 at 04:30

    @Grognard: O dear, that doesn’t sound good Grog, its a painful place to be ripping somebody. I stay away from arseholes mate πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜† .

  20. CraigMc

    15 December 2009 at 04:34

    @Traverse: That may well be but the United children LOST AGAIN in their cup game – missing 3 penalties in the shootout, and at that time Bolton has missed their 1st two penalties. I think Ole and his reserve team staff are too feckin timid with that lot – most of them are little pansies mate πŸ™„

  21. Red Ranter

    15 December 2009 at 05:09

    @Grognard: Once again regarding this particular quote of yours: But their intentions are not just brand building I have to take issue and address it.

    Madrid for the past 15 years have been all about brand. The Beckham purchase was completely brand motivated. The Cristiano Ronaldo deal was footballing in nature, but in Florentino’s first press conference following the CR’s deal he spoke of how important his brand is in Asia. Now will you ever see David Gill or Ferguson talk about a player’s brand? Never. They’ll only talk of the ability the players have and leave the brand building to the marketing side.

    Another instance was when Perez left Makelele go because he wasn’t glamorous enough. And the most shocking of all was letting Eto’o go. By most accounts Perez’s opinion of him was that he was too ugly to be marketable. So he let him go.

    They fired Vicente del Bosque when he won them the league and the Champions league because there was too much boardroom interference with the coaching and tactics. Again an example of complete footballing naivete.

    I’ll give you one more solid example. Perez wanted to have earlier kickoffs of his matches because he could capture the time slot of China and the Far East. (In La Liga, since clubs negotiate their own TV deals he did that) Now while it is a good gesture to appeal to the foreign fans, it wasn’t due to any footballing reason or logic but a pure marketing move. Real Madrid for the past 15 years have been driven so much by greed and marketability that they’ve completely lost focus of the football aspect of the game.

    Now you could say we have become like that of late, but we are comparing recent histories anyway. So a comparison with Madrid is completely inaccurate. We are far better as a club than we get credit for despite the presence of the Glazers. They may be ass clowns looking to fleece the fans, but they’ve never meddled with Ferguson’s tactics or even if they’ve had a say in the transfer budget, it’s never been washing dirty linen in public like Gillet and Hicks.

    For that, and just that, I think, thank fuck we’re not Madrid! The only big club that actually spends big as well as has a coherent vision at present is Barcelona who despite winning the treble splurged on Ibrahimovic. You bring up Barcelona, and I won’t say a word. But comparisons with Madrid as a paragon just gets me.

    I don’t know much about the Yankees, so I’ll take your word for it. But I still am not comfortable making comparisons across completely different business models. Also, Abramovich was the closest owner to not bother much about profits. Even he is feeling the pinch of the economy. And when eventually someone pumps in £1b into the club, he can’t afford to invest merely out of “love for the game.” That is remarkably hard in today’s game and economy.

  22. Redrich

    15 December 2009 at 05:21

    What post are we on here?? I’m jumping back and forth like a damn jackrabbit!! πŸ™‚

  23. Red Ranter

    15 December 2009 at 05:27

    @Redrich: We were supposed to have moved to the Giggs post, but conversation continued here. I guess no one cares about Giggs anymore πŸ˜€

  24. Redrich

    15 December 2009 at 05:34

    @Red Ranter: Well he’s a great player and I guess he’s got a great personality – lets move on! πŸ˜€

  25. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 05:57

    @Red Ranter: We are a far better team than Madrid because we still have Fergie to right the ship. Yes Madrid is concerned by brand, I do not deny that, but they are also obsessed with success in Europe and always besting Barcelona. They buy players that will improve their brand power but Beckham and Ronaldo weren’t exactly slugs coming off the street. They were very accomplished and great footballers that any team would have loved to have. And lets not forget where they came from. United has become a quintessential brand whore. The reason you don’t see them being as bad as Madrid is because of the way the cast of characters carry themselves and the fact they hide behind the curtains. In Madrid Florentino and the rest like to parade their asses out there for all to see because their ego’s are as big as the player’s. But make no mistake about it, Madrid has been winning for as long as Man Utd and has 9 European Cups to their name plus dozens of Spanish titles because they are obsessed with winning and Barcelona’s success is eating away at their pride and ego. So what do they do? They borrow a ton of money and buy players. Well as bad as that may be, Jeez mate, like I wouldn’t exactly cry bloody murder if United did the very same thing. Buy players but buy them wisely I say. After all, at the end of the day it’s really all about me. Satisfying the Grognard’s blood lust for wins, perfection and titles. πŸ˜€ And in the end, trust me, that’s a good thing………..FOR ALL OF US.

  26. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 05:59

    @Redrich: People just don’t seem too interested in talking about Giggsy mate. We love him but the troubles with the team are consuming our thoughts. πŸ˜€

  27. Traverse

    15 December 2009 at 12:35

    @CraigMc: People loose games you know… Nobody wins every game.

  28. CraigMc

    15 December 2009 at 12:56

    @Traverse: Your not getting it Trav – it is NOT losing games that’s the problem, it is the massive drop in the standard of football that is common at OT these days. SAF should work in training on setting up play against his 1st team by setting up 11 defenders against them, as they encounter in MOST games at OT, and insist they stay there playing until DAYBREAK (if that’s what it takes), until the MF’s and strikers particularly LEARN how to break down ‘park the bus’ visiting team play. Wolves are CONFIDENT that tonight they will park the bus, and that United will have to beat them by breaking them down. They are spouting already that this is the way to BEAT United at OT, with them getting an odd break away goal. It is so bloody obvious Trav, and instead of SAF continually telling his players to have patience, and hope to break down the opposition in the late, late show, he should insist they score early. He should offer a hefty bonus to the player that bulges the opposition net early, and you will be amazed how easy it will seem to come to them πŸ™„ . Like Mick McCarthy is saying – United have to beat us! That means lets see if they can break us down, because he believes that they are not able to do that at OT. Most managers believe that, and set up accordingly!

  29. Grognard

    15 December 2009 at 18:13

    @CraigMc: Craig, you have been to training sessions at Carrington have you not? If so, please tell me what an average training session consists of because I too have wondered why certain elements of United’s game are weak and never seem to improve. You speak of park the bus practice, I on the other hand would like to see how they handle corners, crosses and how individual players practice fundamentals. For example, does Anderson work on kicking the ball and is anyone working with him on this or how about Foster’s kicking and distribution etc?

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