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United survive post international break jitters; go top.

I expected the Bolton match to be hard-fought, gritty, and all you could associate with a fixture played on the back of an international break. As the match started playing out, a little bit of revisionism struck and I actually felt we would walk it. But somehow, we contrived to make it harder for ourselves towards the end, and it ended as nervously as I first thought it would.

But the best part of yesterday actually happened elsewhere. First, Aston Villa stunned Chelsea — and stunned is a justifiable term, considering the ordinary season Villa are having — and then a kid, who I shall call “Balloon Boy II” struck at the Stadium of Light. [Those unaware of the Balloon Boy reference, you should take a look at this incident that happened 2 days ago.] I know it was really a beach ball and not a balloon, but play along, eh.

A Liverpool fan punches one of those balls on to the pitch, ‘pool defenders fail to clear it away and DBTheTruth scores a goal with a wicked deflection off the beach ball. You just can’t make such shit up.

Beachball deflection

Shit you can make up, is through photoshop and sure enough, you have some brilliant minds at work creating memes root-causing the fiasco — one of them, this one: [both images, via RoM]

Neville Beach Ball

But enough schadenfreude for now.

The Good:

1. Aside from the happenings at Villa Park or the Stadium of Light, we had a pretty good first half.

2. Berbatov and Owen linked up quite well. Owen’s awareness and movement continues to be top notch. His finishing let him down however. Berbatov, fresh off his hat-trick for Bulgaria was excellent as provider yet, luck deserted him when it came to his finishing.

3. Valencia had a good game; was strong and direct, and topped it off with his debut goal.

4. Ryan Giggs. Veteran, continues to turn the clock back at will. Manages to keep Nani out. Put this on repeat. Every season.

5. Full backs overlapping on both flanks led to both our goals. Evra continues to be excellent for us, while Neville tried to go forward whenever he could.

6. EVDS returns to the starting lineup. He had an uneventful game for the most part. Can’t really say anything else other than good to see him back.

7. Top of the league! Top of the league! Top of the league!

The Bad:

1. Some nervousness, some poor passing in the second half, allowed United to cede initiative and help Bolton in with a sniff.

2. Neville. He was at fault for the Bolton goal. A weak clearance, if one could call that a clearance, led to the goal.

3. Ponderous defending towards the end showed some cracks that has crept into our back four lately hasn’t entirely been resolved. If Gary Cahill had headed anywhere else we would be singing a different song. But we could be playing the if game all day if we wanted to.

*

The good thing is we can hopefully regroup, take stock, get past the midweek Champions League game against CSKA Moscow, sans Rooney, and well… keep marching on which is what we are supposed to be doing anyway.

Before I end this I shall leave you with a quote from Darren Bent made this morning on his twitter page:

“Morning peeps, I might go to the beach today lol ha ha”

Indeed. Who else is up for a game of beach football?

66 Comments

66 Comments

  1. Grognard

    19 October 2009 at 21:55

    @Redrich: No that wouldn’t work because Berbatov cannot create scoring chances by himself. Ronaldo could take the ball at the halfway line and get by everyone and score on his own or hit a free kick from 40 yards. Berba needs service to score. All his nifty touches are great but if he is not in the right position to score or if he doesn’t get the service, he is not going to make anything happen. He is much more dependent on the team.

  2. Jay wire

    19 October 2009 at 23:07

    @Grognard- I’ll 1st respond to ur Messi arguement because it is the most provocative. How is Messi a better player when both are a 100% fit? Easy. He is a far better dribbler for starters. He is actually more prolific in front of goal. Yes. He is the most unselfish attacker to have played football and he still finds enough time to bang them in. I mean as you correctly pointed out, he doesn’t even take freekicks or penalties but still he got only 4 goals less than Ronaldo in his prime. 38 GOALS. He can still score a freekick mind you though Xavi is the main taker as he did against Atletico Madrid. Now even more astonishing is the assists he came up with. It’s ridiculous. 24 assists. I mean come on. The thing about him is just a sniff at goal and it’s over. He doesn’t need to take a thousand shots like Ronaldo. Every single shot counts with Messi. Even at 50% fitness he ran rings around our defence which was the best at that time at Old Trafford. He completely shattered every team in the Champions League incl us last season. You should have watched the game vs Lyon. He was out of this world. You talk of Ronaldo’s strength in the air. Did you even consider the guy’s height before such a ridiculous comparison. I mean he actually suffered from a growth preventing disease and you expect him to compete in the air with the notably tall Ronaldo. You see Messi doesn’t even need other players to sacrifice for him in terms of their positions etc, he still plays to the highest standard. Yes he can play from the left and thru the middle. You clearly don’t watch Barca games because his versatility is often pointed out as one of his greatest assets. I’ve seen him and Eto’o and Henry switch positions at will the same way he did when Ronaldinho was still there. His international record is still wanting on the stats side but have you looked at the whole story. Like Rooney he went to the 2006 WC still recovering from a long term injury. He hardly played anyway. This time around Argentina decided to put a joker in charge of the team and you expect anything good from that? It’s unfortunate that I’ve supported Barca since 1998 and Argentina since I started walking. I actually watch and follow these teams. You don’t watch Barca as your assessment showed. Esp when you said can he play through the middle and on the left. Oh and btw he is more fleece footed than Ronaldo contrary to what you believe. He has better vision and is far far far more intelligent as a player. And he can even play as an CAM. Can Ronaldo do that? Not a chance. Sorry but your boy Ronaldo has no answer on Messi. Not even a glimpse of a look in. Yes I’m a Barca fan but I’m bigger on United just before some ppl accuse me of certain things. I’m United 1st and foremost but Barca and Juve have always been my 2nd and 3rd teams respectively.

  3. Red Ranter

    19 October 2009 at 23:11

    @Grognard: Messi is better than Ronaldo in creativity, vision and close control. He’s better at beating players and is a more intelligent player than Ronaldo. In terms of strength, aerial ability, finishing, free-kicks though Ronaldo’s better. In terms of pace I think they’re equal.

    All that said, judging who’s better is a matter of opinion. If you ask me who I’d pay to watch, I’d say Messi. You might go for Ronaldo which is ok. It’s a subjective thing. I like my players to beat people with close control rather than stepovers.

    And saying he’s invisible for Argentina is a poor argument. The current Argentina team under Maradona is a cesspit for any talent to blossom. Ronaldo has been anonymous for Portugal too.

  4. Red Ranter

    19 October 2009 at 23:17

    @Jay wire: When did selfishness become a crime for attacking players? The selfishness Ronaldo showed was an asset to our side except for last season. I liked Ronaldo precisely for his selfishness and directness. Without that selfish streak we would be another Arsenal — look where their selflessness and desire to score the perfect goal got them. You find selfishness a stick to beat him with, I consider that his greatest asset and he was quite judicious in drawing the line between creating and scoring — but for last season.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on RvN. He was a fantastic striker because he was very selfish. You need to be selfish to succeed in his position.

  5. Jay wire

    20 October 2009 at 00:01

    My point was he was way too selfish. And it wasn’t about bashing him. I said and for some reason have to repeat it, he hindered players due to his selfish play. You can’t talk of selfish play being a good thing when someone tries to score from close to the centre circle. Yes some went in but let’s be honest here the bulk of his freekicks injured someone in the wall or made someone in row X spill his milkshake. How many could have been converted to goals via headers etc. Just look at the current season and how our freekicks have been fruitful. In 2008 he was selfish. Too selfish in my opinion. The Brazilian Ronaldo was selfish but he didn’t over do it as Ronaldo. Romario was very selfish(and had an even worse personality than “our” Ronaldo) but he still knew to share scoring duties with Hristo Stoichov at Barca. Van Nistelrooy was selfish inside the box only and that’s a fact. And in any case his best games were when we played him as the lone striker and he did form a good give and get partnership with Scholes and Solskjaer. Ronaldo on the other hand was just selfish even when unnecessary. Esp when unnecessary. He took almost all the shots. Rooney and Tevez were not overdoing it in defence they had to cover for Ronaldo who saw it a duty for others and not himself. Read Rooney’s recent interview in which he was saying he doesn’t care if Portugal fail to go to SA. He actually mentioned that they had to do the defending for Ronaldo. I just believe his selfishness was too much and would prove detrimental to team development in the future. I’m probably the only United fan in the world that celebrated his departure, which I was hoping would take place after the final straw statements he made 24 hrs after our Moscow triumph.

  6. Redrich

    20 October 2009 at 00:23

    @Grognard: Yeah the Berbatov thing was said tongue in cheek. I’m aware that he hasn’t got that part of the game in him, but it would sure be nice if he did! 🙂

  7. Jay wire

    20 October 2009 at 01:05

    @Grognard- Some of the players on that list I’ve never watched so I’ll speak on those I know. But 1st I have to say it’s the most ridiculous falsehood to say your definition of go to guy is the world definition. Most of the players on that list if not all are names of the most prolific and clinical strikers ever. That’s all. Not necessarily go to guys for their teams. So Shevchenko was also Milan’s go to guy. That immediately eliminates Inzaghi from that list. Once again you choose examples of teams I actually follow. Whilst at Juve(mind you the club he has played for the longest though Milan may now be) Inzaghi formed a great partnership with Del Piero who was actually the go to guy in a team with Zidane. He wasn’t selfish. He was just prolific. He would just stay on the last defender’s shoulder the whole game whilst Del Piero and Zidane did the creating of chances and he’d finish the chances off. I’m serious when I say the whole game. From there with Trezeguet coming in he was shipped off to Milan and formed a great partnership with Shevchenko. At Milan he was nothing remotely similar to a go to guy with players like Shevchenko and Costa kurta and eventually Kaka taking that responsibility. Van Nistelrooj was a similar case and played the same way. Paul Scholes was the orchestrator of all our moves with Ruud the finisher. Paul was our go to guy during that time. And ppl say he was selfish and yet he simply was always in the best positions and always inside the box where one is almost always expected to shoot to score. Maybe he should have passed more to the non-existant teammates who “were” together with him near the goal line. What of Crespo? Exactly. What of him? Which team are you supposing he was their go to guy? Parma? Inter? Or maybe Argentina? With your arguement Madrid had two go to guys in Raul and Ronaldo. Even in a team possessing one of the most creative players in the history of the game. A player of whom Roberto Carlos once famously revealed, they had been instructed by the then coach Vicente Del Bosque, that when they didn’t know what to do they should “pass the ball to Zidane”. That to me is the standard of a go to guy. All you have put out are simply strikers who scored or still score with ridiculous regularity. The team’s playmaker is usually it’s go to guy but not always because sometimes wingers(Figo with Portugal) or strikers(Del Piero) are given that role. He is the guy you “go to” to enquire on what to do next

  8. Jay wire

    20 October 2009 at 01:22

    @RedRanter- I forgot to add that in terms of finishing your assessment of Messi is wrong. He is by far a better finisher than Ronaldo as his shots to goal ratio will show. Supported by the fact that he also finds time within the same 90 minutes to come up with a criminal number of assists and also tracks back and covers defensively almost as much as players like Tevez or Rooney. And score in every single big game whilst terrorising the most respected of defences. I’m not arguing with you seeing that you concur with the obvious fact of Messi being the best player. Just had to twitch your assessment. Sorry

  9. Vivek

    20 October 2009 at 05:27

    @Jay Wire: In the Messi Vs Ronaldo argument, Messi probably has the edge on footballing intelligence, but if you consider overall effectiveness on the pitch, I would take Ronaldo over him any day. A tough tackling defence can take Messi out of the game. You forget that Messi plays in Spain, where defenders are little girls in comparison to the brute force in the EPL. Ronaldo managed to score 42 goals DESPITE the battering he got from opposing defenders. I would like to see how Messi would perform in a full season in the EPL. and just to qualify my opinion, I love Barca. Just ask Grognard, with whom I had a lively argument when Barca beat Chelski in the CL semi. That game is an example when Messi was marked out of the game by a tough tackling English team. And you mention that Messi cant do anything about his physique. Well, like it or not, a good physique plays a very important part of in a footballer’s effectiveness, and that is one area which puts Ronaldo over Messi for me, since you can expect Ronaldo to take a lot of beating and still produce

  10. Grognard

    20 October 2009 at 06:15

    @Jay wire: Listen mate, I watch plenty of Barca games and your points are not impressing me. You something is so because you want it to be but that doesn’t make it so. Messi is more prolific than Ronaldo? 😆 😆 😆 😆 Make me laugh some more mate. I think Ronaldo has shown at Real Madrid just hopw superior he is when he is being surrounded by great players. United had great pleryers nut some of them were well beyond their prime and some are just not great enough. Versatility? 😯 Are you fucking having a laugh? Messi is useless on theleft side and can’t score with his opposite leg. More prolific in front of the net? Hardly. He gets so many easy chances because of his teammates creating cgreat space and opportunities for him. Ronaldo used to have to create goals all by himself. Yes Messi is a great dribbler and has a quicker burst of pace than Ronaldo, but to say he is better when I have made my case with solid examples, is like demanding Tim Burton’s Batman is superior to Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight. Only a blind man would agree. Clearly you have shown a dislike for Ronaldo and this is clouding your assessment of him. I and millions of others know better. Messi will win the Balon D ‘Or this year but lets see if he beats out Ronaldo next season. Ronaldo is king and if you don’t believe it, that’s no skin off my norse mate. I like Messi a lot, but I can see the differences and the major advantage Ronaldo has over him in so many facets of the game.

  11. Grognard

    20 October 2009 at 06:24

    @Red Ranter: Messi does nothave better close control than Ronaldo. Their styles are different but trust me, the moves Ronaldo has take incredible control of the ball. Messi is a fvery direct dribbler where Ronaldo will try more risky dribbles to get by a player. Yes Messi is more creative because he has far more options to play with. Ronaldo had been given instructions by Fergie to be the man and score the goals. Big difference in philosophy. When Ronaldo is playing for Portugal he seems much more willing to be creative. Still, i will concede the dribbling and creativity to Messi. But when it comes to shooting with both legs, shooting power, heading power and accuracy, leaping ability, strength, determination and ability to have ice water run through his veins when taking free kicks and penalties and then to take them with incredible skill, makes him a more well rounded player and a player with all the tools.

    No they are not even mate. Messi is great but he is often invisible against great opponents. When a team puts a good defensive player on him, he disappears. Ronaldo rarely disappears from a game and above all, he is clutch when he is needed most. Lets not forget that in that terrible CL final in Rome, it was Ronaldo who was the only player to show up fro United. Messi has had a more versatile supporting cast when it comes to attack and that has given him more chances on goal as well as more opportunities and options to create. Lets see how many Ronaldo ends up with in La Liga when he returns from his injury.

  12. Grognard

    20 October 2009 at 06:25

    @Red Ranter: And I don’t disagree with you on RVN. Of course he had to be selfish. That’s why he was a go to guy.

  13. Grognard

    20 October 2009 at 06:29

    @Jay wire: He never hindered players at all. It’s time you and others realized that those players were just not good enough to keep up with him. He’s gone now and i do not see massive improvements in anyone because of his departure. That’s a lame argument. If anything, he made those around him look better than they were because he would bulge the old onion bag enough and keep them out of trouble. Berbatov is slightly better but his goal production still has not increased and Rooney is not the same player he was. Is Carrick or Anderson better? How about Scholes? Arguably only Fletcher has improved on United since his departure. Giggs remains as great as always. So please tell me what you are talking about because I do not get what you are saying because I just poked holes in your theory. 😕

  14. Grognard

    20 October 2009 at 06:41

    @Jay wire: Look mate, I don’t know where you reside but here in North America the term “go to guy” refers to the player who scores. In hockey it is the goal scorer, in basketball it is considered the top scoring threat, in baseball it is the number one pitcher on defense and the home run hitter on offense and in american football it is the running back and the wide receiver who is considered the target for a touchdown. Every sport refers to the “go to guy” as the SCORER. So save me with your definition because yet again I can back my argument up with facts. In basketball Michael Jordan and Larry Bird were go to guys as is Koby Bryant and Lebron James today. In US football. Adrian Petersen and Randy Moss are considered go to guys because they are touchdown machines. In baseball Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez are go to guys because of their home run abilities. In hockey the top goal scorers have always been the go to guys Sakic, Iginla, Heatley and Ovechkin. Crosby on the other hand is more of a play maker despite his ability to score as well. So if you do not recognize these names, that is because you are looking at thing s from a narrow perspective and therefore, you must be wrong. Do not mistake a go to guy with a midfield general or play making winger. Big difference. This is not even up for debate, it’s the facts as Rafa would say, whether you want to agree with it or not. You yourself have defined a go to guy as being prolific. Well play makers are not called prolific, scorers are.

  15. Jay wire

    20 October 2009 at 11:28

    Who in the world told you that North American definitions are the universal definition? Are you implying that if you live outside North America you’re not in the world? That’s weak. I to have supported my arguements with facts. With your definition of go to guy some teams would possess two, three and even four at the same time. Raul and Ronaldo for Real, Messi, Henry and Eto’o for Barca. Then that completely shatters your arguement.

  16. Grognard

    20 October 2009 at 18:41

    @Jay wire: I see now that you are in this for the fight because no rational reasoning seems to get you to see the light. North America has more professional sports than any other continent and has a larger and more significant media coverage. Terms like go to guy show up here much more and to be honest, i have never ever heard the use of the term in footy, but i have heard it used in North America dozens of times.

    And yes some teams are blessed with more than one go to guy. How that shatters my argument is beyond me. Once again your argument or lack of one makes me shake in my boots. Come on mate, is this the best you can do? This isn’t even a debate because I won that hands down. I guess it is an argument because all you can come up with now is quick little put downs that don’t even have any strength or merit. I expected more from you there mate. 🙄

    And finally, “Who in the world told you that North American definitions are the universal definition?” Well it wasn’t a closed minded person with a narrow perspective like you mate. 😀

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