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Come on Liverpool!

So with two matches to go both United and Chelsea beat their respective opponents.

Chelsea have Liverpool next week and then Wigan the next.  United will face Sunderland followed by Stoke.  One of the few bright spots this weekend would be Stoke’s performance.  From what I could see (just look at the final result 7-0) they have packed up for the season.  At least United can look forward to 3 points on the 9th. 

It’s all essentially down to Liverpool this weekend.  They will have to do the business for us if anything is going to come of this season.  Wouldn’t it odd for Liverpool to play a decisive role in United 19th title ultimately taking the crown as England’s most successful club?  Bizarre business and truly I can’t much coming of it.  They may be urging forward towards fourth but they may also have a hangover from there European outing.

It’s too bad that Mourinho has gone; there was a period just over 2 years ago now where United were seen as preferable champions over Chelsea.  Now this Italian guy shows up and suddenly people don’t really mind them that much.  Oh how things can change.

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United 3-1 Spurs: Player Ratings

Manchester United endured a bit of a test at Old Trafford.  In addition to the epidemic of flu Spurs weren’t pushovers either.  My thoughts below for the players.

van der Sar (7) – Not a lot to do but made a few key catches from dangerous looking crosses.  Initial fitness concerns in the first half seemed to disappear.

Rafael (6) – Excellent marshalling of Bale and Modric was tainted by poor defending for Spurs’ goal.  Had he stayed on the post he could have prevented the goal.

Vidic (7) – Not tested until Crouch came on late in the second half.  Looked assured and confident in his challenges with a delicious toe poke to disposess Gudjonson taking top honours.

Evans  (6) – Not much to do, fairly anonymous which is not a bad quality in a defender.  He continues to look the business as a replacement for Ferdinand.  Not vintage defending though.

Evra (6) – Typical energy and endeavour but was hampered by Chelsea hoodoo in the second half.  An evacuated stomach early in the second half tempered his involvement and was replaced by O’Shea.

Valencia (8) – Superb work on the right in both the attacking and defending thirds.  Popped up in the middle ahead of his own 18 yard box to make a crucial tacke.  Typical concentration and discipline.  Unfortunately injured in the second half and replaced by Carrick.

Fletcher (7) – Energetic and decisive in midfield.  As usual he provided the grit and drive in United’s heart.  Seemed to tire late on in the match.

Scholes (8) – If Fletcher is the “Lub” in United’s heart then Scholes was the “Dub”.  Metronome passing with rapier like accuracy.  Given acres of space to boss the game and pin Spurs back at will.

Giggs (6) – Beginning to look off the pace.  His legs can’t keep up with Scholes’ vision anymore.  He’s certainly reliable but will find his opportunities limited as we approach the finish line.

Nani (9) – He provided a glimpse of the magic we saw earlier this year against Arsenal.  His goal that made it 2-1 to United was really a thing of beauty and worth a “Youtube”.  His running also lured Palacios into the challenge that provided United with the second penalty.  The passing Nani displayed was something you’d expect from Giggs with several long passes bi-secting the Tottenham defense.

Berbatov (7) – A good showing from the much maligned front man.  No Rooney once again meant the spotlight was on the Bulgarian and he showed a slightly improved workrate along with some very good hold up play.  His backheel to Evra in the area flummoxed the Tottenham defense and created the first goal.

Substitutes:

60th Carrick for Valencia (5) – Made little impact but avoided any blunders.  He should be concerned he wasn’t chosen to start this match

67th O’Shea for Evra (4) – Not up to the challenge of Aaron Lennon and Assou-Ekotto and looked shaky.

80th Macheda for Rafael (7) – Superb cameo for the young Italian.  Provided the through ball for Nani’s gem and showed some excellent hold up play and close control.  Certainly did his reputation no harm.  Well done.

Things to Love

Alright so lets talk about great things.

  1. Barcelona are a beautiful team.  As a United fan there is only one, and I mean only and just barely at that, team that I can stomach losing to in the Champions League Final. 
  2. Messi happens to be extraordinarily gifted and we are truly lucky as a result.
  3. Winning is winning and even an unconvincing win still feels good.  Manchester United won against Burnley Saturday albiet unsatisfyingly so.  Berbatov continues to promise but not deliver and you look at the team and wonder, “How long can it really last?” But at the end of 90 minutes they run out 3-0 and a healthy win is on paper.  This will temporarily, a respite to be grateful for, ease the growing “crisis” talk.
  4. Liverpool are not good.  Again and again I keep saying this but for some reason there are some who  are not surprised by Liverpool’s continued and increasingly amusing downfall.  I have repeatedly said that without Gerrard and Torres they are mediocre at best and with them both they are a good team.

Money and endless talk of debt cast a dense shadow over the beauty that is football. 

Would you rather see a Man United free of debt and struggling for midtable or see them enjoy short term success with impending CATASTROPHIC FAILURE. 

Now let’s all enjoy a picture that magnificently demonstrates the humbling of Real Madrid at the hands of Athletic Bilbao.

The wonderful thing about Football is you get to see those rich bourgoisie beaten at the hands of the unfancied proletariet.

Spectacular fun.  All for now.

Generally Speaking

Just a few quick thoughts before the weekend that we hope will contain some sort of defrosted football.

The Togo National Team attacked by gunmen.  The bus driver was killed and four others injured.  Portsmouth is asking for their players back if their safety cannot be guaranteed.  Maybe I’m cynical but this is probably a case of desperate opportunism on the Portsmouth’s part.  Their situation has never been more perilous and any glimmer of hope has to look like the second coming.  If only the club was genuinely concerned about the well-being of their players.

Man City are Desperate.  Patrick Viera?  Do we really have to witness the last painful years of a former star?  Viera is not, NOT I repeat, going to answer the equation Mancini is eagerly trying to solve.  Good players who start to fall off the pace typically move to Italy instead of the way round.  What a pity.

Man United is in Debt but…it doesn’t matter.  Have you ever been in debt?  I’m in debt.  It affects everything you do.  That is unless you’re Manchester United.  As much as I love the man Sir Alex Ferguson seems to be losing his grip of late.  It seems every week he’s ranting about some referee or complaining there wasn’t eight minutes of added time.  Now he’s telling us the “this should be illegal” amount of debt the Glazer family incurred when they bought United does not affect his day to day transfer dealings.  If you owed 700 million and cashed in on an 80 million asset wouldn’t you want to take a chunk off of your shiver and sweat inducing interest payments?  Sure you would.

I suppose that’s all for now.  What a crazy a week it’s been.

Man United are the new Leeds

January 4, 2010 1 comment

Let’s quickly get some of the really interesting stats out of the way. 

  • Leeds are 42 places below Man United in the overall scheme of English Football.
  • Sir Alex Ferguson has never lost an FA Cup Third round match.
  • United’s forwards (Rooney and Berbatov) together cost 60 million together.

I don’t really think United will be topping the third division in 10 years. 

Alan Smith and Paul Robinson react to Leeds' Relegation

Don’t you think this would never have come up had Manchester United’s opponents not been Leeds United?  Leeds United are one of the most tragic stories in all of football.  A decade ago they were gracing football’s showpiece, the Champions League.  Their fall was catastrophic .  It had everything really: triumph and success, tragedy, crippling failure, terrible owners and now we see the glimmers of new hope.

The key differences of course is the absence of abject failure for Manchester United.  Leeds United did not achieve the consistent success required sustain the wage bills and other necessities for the premier echelon of world club football. 

Surely a club like Arsenal better fit the bill for a possible club in crisis?  Crippled by obscene building costs they cannot afford to bring in the bright lights of football (provided Wenger decided to) and so results began to go against them.  The talented young prospects they did have suddenly wanted away as quickly as possible. 

With no success whatsoever (and has there really been any of late?) to bring in extra funds Arsenal are left in financial turmoil.  After several unsuccessful bids from well-intentioned buyers (and some not so well-intentioned) they eventually were overcome and went into administration.  The bills just couldn’t be paid.

Okay so Arsenal aren’t likely to plunge into financial hell anytime soon.  But neither are Manchester United.  Again the key difference is success or the lack of it. 

Just to reiterate the only reason the Manchester United were though of in terms of collapse and downfall is because of their opponents who so spectacularly bungled their own success.

Just One Match

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Oh come on! It isn’t as if Jermaine Defoe reinvented the sport by scoring 5 goals in a match. So after this weekend what have we been told? Some new things…some old things:

Liverpool are in a whole heap of trouble and should be concentrated on damage control.

Jermaine Defoe is super fantastically awesome after … well just one really good game. Oh and Tottenham are better than Liverpool. HOLY CRAP!! I know what I just said.  Check out what I lifted from ESPNSoccernet.

But Redknapp believes no other Englishman can match Defoe for poise and calm in front of goal.

“He’s an amazing finisher,” Redknapp said. “When you look at England strikers, Wayne Rooney’s fantastic – a complete all-round player – but as a finisher, Defoe is the best out there.

Mr. Redknapp with all due respect…no he isn’t.  He’s just not.  He had a great game and will go to the World Cup as a substitute.

Chelsea are boringly good. They seem to just dispatch teams without thinking or breaking a sweat.

Arsenal are yet again proving that they are not the finished product.

Boring boring boring. Bring on the World Cup already. Let’s see some upsets and unsung heroes. I can’t wait to see unpaid players playing for nothing more than the glory of their country. There’s nothing more pure and excellent than that.

Impending Failure, Liverpool are still Crap

Everyone once in a while I whip out one of my “Season Review” DVDs to remind myself of how far my club has come.  Everything has to come to an end though.  Life, and Football, is all about cycles.  In Sport its impossible to maintain total dominance.  There is always a flux where certain players do well, others do poorly and some circumstances just can’t be replicated (I’m thinking a beachball on the pitch that magically deflects a save-able shot into the net).  Sport always changes. That’s why we love it.

I can’t help but think that Chelsea will win the League this year much in the same way United won last year.  They will be the only team that is able to show consistency and therefore limp over the finish line before any of the other teams can drag themselves across.

Liverpool are crap, Arsenal are great at smashing anyone who doesn’t actually matter, Manchester United win despite their best efforts and  Tottenham, Aston Villa and Manchester City are fooling themselves if they think they’ll get anywhere near the pinnacle of England.

Manchester United will prove to be a challenger but will fail.  As a club they have a wonderful ability to beat teams despite appearing to not care either way (Wayne Rooney apart).  The only way Chelsea won’t win is if they manage to trip themselves up as they have done in the previous two seasons.

The Conclusion:

Chelsea are still winning convincingly

Arsenal are happy to beat teams when they’re allowed to

Manchester United have the momentum of three straight titles pushing them forward and over their opposition, but will it last?

And Liverpool: you may have noticed through the number of times I bring it up but Liverpool are crap.  They most definitely peaked last season.  They should be proud of their runner-up spot to Manchester United last year.  It will certainly be their best finish for some time to come.