It’s been 362 days since United last played Tottenham Hotspur and both games were very similar in the way they worked out, with one crucial difference: United didn’t lose this match. On New Year’s Day, United played Spurs off the pitch until getting caught with a sucker punch from Emmanuel Adebayor and eventually losing the match 2-1. This time around, with good chances missed by Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie, United could and should have been 3-0 up by the half time whistle. In the 68th minute, when Juan Mata ballooned a good chance so far over the bar that the ball ended up on Paxton Road, I was beginning to fear a Tottenham smash’n’grab akin to last year.
View from the United section of White Hart Lane (photo courtesy of Toby Cecil)
Well, that’s what should have happened. Tottenham, who with Mauricio Pochettino as manager, are a noticeably fitter side and finished the match the much stronger team. We ended up relieved at the 0-0 draw when, due to wasteful finishing from United, particularly in the first half, Continue reading With A Stark Choice – Manchester 28th December 2014
This could’ve been tricky. Newcastle have a lousy record at Old Trafford but on their last visit here, just over a year ago, they beat United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1972. The protests that were raging against Alan Pardew’s incumbency a few months ago have gone somewhat muted in recent times as Newcastle had built up a good run of results which included beating this seasons likely champions Chelsea, a few weeks ago at St James Park. Such was the revival in Newcastle’s fortunes that paper handkerchief manufacturers were in serious danger of laying workers off due to the fact that Geordies weren’t crying in the stands, their broon ale or threatening to burst the banks of the Tyne with their relentless squawking after a bad result. A last minute goal from Adam Johnson the other day for Sunderland and United’s eventually easy win today should see normal service resumed for Kleenex pretty soon.
United players celebrate Robin van Persie’s goal in the 53rd minute (photograph courtesy of Neil Meehan)
The run up to this game saw an unnecessary frenzy for United fans caused by Aston Villa over match tickets. Villa had put the tickets on open sale over the internet about five weeks ago, just like they’ve been doing for years, only this time, they rescinded the tickets bought by anybody they suspected of being a United fan. Through a friend who has lives in the middle of Liverpool, I’ve been getting tickets for Villa in this way for a while now and I have never seen any problem at Villa Park when United have been in the Villa part of the ground. I always thought Villa were grateful for the revenue visiting reds gave them, I was wrong. This time, Villa tried using the United game to sell half season tickets. You’re not famous anymore indeed!!
A photograph that magically captures the madness in the Witton Lane stand seconds after Falcao had equalised (photo courtesy of Neil Meehan)
While Villa had a cull of people buying tickets for the game, they didn’t fully succeed. There’s nowt more resourceful as a travelling United fan* (please see the bottom) getting into the match. When Radamel Falcao equalised in the 52nd minute, there was a slew of reds in the Villa section next to the segregation line, who started celebrating the goal. This wound up a nearby crew of stewards to such a degree that I am now convinced (having been there many times) that they are compulsorily prescribed amphetamines before United’s fixture at that ground. It’s either that or they’ve watched too many films about American soldiers in Vietnam. If they are sane then I know where there’s a house full of people like them. The lad who had his Steve Gerrard banner stopped at Old Trafford last week on Health & Safety grounds was told today to not pull it out under any circumstances. This was at exactly the same time that a huge banner was being unfurled across the Holte End in a forlorn attempt at rousing some passion out of Villa fans. Unlike last week though, the Gerrard banner was briefly seen on live television worldwide, seconds after Falcao’s goal.
In the 64th minute, Gabriel Agbonlahor was harshly sent off by Lee Mason for a challenge on Ashley Young that was in my opinion, a yellow card. The fact that it was a foul on Ashley Young which had resulted in the red card, caused an apoplectic reaction from the Villa fans. The local Police must’ve been relieved Ashley Young didn’t score the winner, even though that was what the more mischievous reds were praying for. I reckon they could have had a repeat of the Handsworth riots on their hands, just in time for the festive period.
Red wasn’t harsh at all. He should have been sent off for that Moustache. — John Ashton (@thedoveman1982) December 20, 2014
Actually, come to think of it, he has a point
At the full time whistle, we walked away with a 1-1 draw, probably a fair result. I now know that Louis van Gaal, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney have expressed disappointment that United didn’t win. I’m disappointed too, especially playing against ten men for nearly half an hour but United have had some good luck in recent weeks so I just go with it. We could be far worse off. Think of last season.
What this result will hopefully do is calm a few people down. Some of the garbage I’d read in the media after the Liverpool win was understandable in that they were doing their job. Winding up the more gullible amongst United fans. What has surprised me was how may people got wrapped up in that excitement. Sure beating Liverpool and Arsenal over a six game run are great results, it doesn’t meant that United are suddenly in serious contention for the title.
Thanks to Neil Meehan and Ciaran McMullan for their help in writing this
*full respect to those City fans in Moscow who nearly got into the ground that night, only to be grassed up by their own stewards
Got a text from a MCFC mate in Moscow: 7 got in the ground, 6 were ejected (by MCFC security). One watched wearing a photographer’s bib. — Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) October 22, 2014
Scousers weren´t confident coming into this match. The ones I talk to had a similar demeanour about them as we did when we last (properly) played them in March. I wasn´t falling into that trap. I expected Liverpool to up their game from recent fixtures, they always do when they play United. I certainly didn´t expect United to win as emphatically as they did.
Liverpool had the better of the early play but the tone of the game was set up succinctly in the 12th minute when Raheem Sterling missed the first of three great oportunties he was to have this game. Twenty five seconds later, Wayne Rooney put United 1-0 up after Antonio Valencia took out three Liverpool players with a nutmeg on Joe Allen. It´s incredible how such a short space of time could have such a polarising influence on a game of football. If Liverpool had gone ahead, United would have had a job and half breaking them down.
This banner wasn´t allowed to be displayed in the J Stand yesterday because some lily livered jobsworth at Old Trafford didn´t like it. You never see provocative banners at Anfield now do you? (photo courtesy of Neil Meehan and banner designed by Mark Speakman)