In my memory of watching United (since 1981), I can say that every time United have got to a domestic semi final, there has been a justifiable confidence amongst reds of getting through to the final of the respective cup. In that time United have prevailed in seventeen out of twenty semi finals, against clubs/teams like (come on) Oldham, Arsenal, Liverpool and many other smaller clubs. However, last night, there must’ve been a wise premonition scattered amongst the United crowd. Not one red said to me in the intervening fortnight between the two legs of this semi, with the usual bravado, of “let’s wait ’til we get these back to Old Trafford”. Not once did I hear United fans sing jolly rhymes about visiting the country’s biggest open sewer, Wembley, like they normally do at semi finals. After the first leg defeat, I was expecting a repeat of the fabled atmosphere that the equivalent game in 1992 had, when United beat Middlesbrough in what was the Stretford End terrace’s last hurrah. The atmosphere last night though instead was one of nervous apprehension. The nerves of the crowd must’ve spread out to the players on the pitch. I’m hoping that is the most accurate explanation for what was a performance of almost comical incompetence.
When United drew Sunderland for the semi, everybody was pleased. Sunderland were still recovering from the ill advised appointment of Paolo Di Canio. Continue reading A Wise Premonition – Manchester 23rd January 2014
Last week, United beat Swansea City 2-0 with goals from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck to seize a losing run. It was at times sloppy and Swansea gave United a scare or two in the first half, but United ended up winning comfortably. Yesterday, with United’s recent results in mind, some bookies were offering 4/1 on a straight United win. I reckon it’s over twenty years since odds as good as that, were offered on a United win. Even with odds as enticing and knowing that even now, United are capable of beating anybody on the right day, I don’t know anybody who had a serious punt on a United victory. Most reds I spoke to prior to yesterday were secretly dreading the potential leathering United could have got. The 3-1 result looked emphatic for Chelsea, anybody who watched the game will know that was far from the case.
Yet again a merciful United attack spared the opposition when playing well. It was a surprise to nobody watching the match that with United dominating the early part of the game, Chelsea took the lead in the 17th minute. Samuel Eto’o sold Phil Jones far too easily on the right flank and then let fly with left footed shot that hit the back of the net right in front of the traveling reds via a Michael Carrick deflection. Before that, Ashley Young had forced the excellent Petr Cech into a save in the first minute. For all that possession up to Eto’s goal, I’m convinced that United, Young, Rafael and Evra in particular,would struggle to deliver a news paper, never mind a decent final ball. The quality of the crosses when in a good position was as bad as anything I’ve ever seen Nani deliver. Continue reading An Empty Gesture In A Fit Of Pique – Manchester 20th January 2014
A strong smell of splff blissed everybody out as we headed towards half time in an awful game. Apart from a stupid booking for Patrice Evra, a Ryan Giggs shot hitting the bar and a correctly disallowed Adnan Januzaj goal for offside, nothing much had happened apart from plenty of impotent United possession. Inspired by the aroma of the Casbah, reds were looking at each other and remarking how cool everything is. This happy catatonia was brutally disrupted when Ryan Giggs maintained his incredible record of scoring in every season since 1990/1991 in first half injury time. Unfortunately, for the first time in 23 years, he had put the ball into his own net having been pressured by his fellow Salfordian, Phil Bardsley, into doing so. The feelings of a mutual loving of mankind, evaporated almost immediately and transformed itself the usual atmosphere at football matches of loathing and hostility. Normal service was resumed. Half time and there was a sense of numb disbelief. Nobody could comprehend how Sunderland, a side who didn’t even know who was playing in goal for United, could be 1-0 up.
Sebastian Larsson (bottom right hand corner) about to take the free kick which lead to Sunderlands goal in first half injury time
Continue reading A Mutual Loving Of Mankind – Sunderland, 7th January 2014
We’re back to that time of year when the trees have come down, Father Christmas is back on the dole and everybody’s bills come through the letterbox. The time of year when people go off the beer and there’s slightly less cheer as the festivities disappear. That can only mean one thing; we’re back to the third round of the FA Cup. This is when players and supporters of smaller clubs get condescended by clueless commentators from ITV and BT Sports. Bemused players, who didn’t grow up in the UK are asked, “just what did the FA Cup mean to you as a boy growing up in Spain/Holland/Germany etc”? Before that though, we had the New Year’s Day fixtures. Continue reading The Answer My Friend Is Blowing In The Wind – Manchester 5th of January 2014