Papering Over The Cracks – Manchester 8th of April 2013

There was a strange build up to this game. Superficially, United fans (myself included) were exuding confidence about having a party on derby day. Privately, myself and virtually every red I know would have been delighted with a draw tonight. United hadn’t lost a league game in nearly five months since the terrible performance at a staggeringly poor Norwich City in November. The truth is that United haven’t played well since the first half of the Chelsea FA Cup game immediately after being knocked out of the European cup just under a month ago. The two league matches since then (prior to tonight’s match) had seen United beat Reading and Sunderland by a goal to nil without really looking impressive. Everybody knew that United would have to improve dramatically on last Mondays dreadful performance at Stamford Bridge because one thing that was obvious was that City were going to be up for this game tonight.

A cagey first half was shaded by City, they played with more purpose without looking too threatening. While Rafael hit Joe Harts upright on the stroke of half time, it was the only time I remember the City goal coming under any threat. Six minutes after half time, Ryan Giggs tried being a bit too clever with a defensive back heel which ended up in the possession of Samir Nasri. From the resulting Nasri pass, James Milner belted the shot which deflected off Phil Jones past David De Gea in the Scoreboard end goal. City’s defence to me had looked solid all night and it was a great relief seven minutes later when Phil Jones forced an own goal off Vincent Kompany, resultant from a Robin Van Persie free kick. Twenty minutes later, Sergio Aguero ran past Danny Welbeck, Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones like they were static chicanes to score an amazing winner for City. September last year was the last time United lost a home league game. That day, Gareth Bale scored a similar goal for Tottenham that Aguero scored tonight. I didn’t think it would happen twice in a season. City deserved the win tonight, they played with more cohesion and they looked like they wanted it more. What United’s next move is anybody’s guess. A year ago today, United beat QPR 2-0 before City went to Arsenal and lost 1-0. The end of that days work meant that United had an eight point lead with six games to go, a lead that we all know United squandered. Tonight, United are twelve points clear with seven games to go, so are theoretically, in a better position that this time last season, even if it doesn’t feel like it. For the healthy position United find themselves in regarding league position, this side isn’t good enough over any long term picture, regardless of the noises emanating out of Old Trafford regarding the youth and potential longevity of these young players.

Two hours before kick off, there was a substantial police presence near the Pomona and the old Bulls Head on Chester Road. Everywhere you looked after that on the arterial roads leading to Old Trafford from Town, there was police everywhere. The Tollgate, normally a pub where reds meet for a chat and a pint before a match was in a very boisterous mood tonight pre-match. I noticed on the walk up to the ground that there wasn’t a single ticket tout working the streets near Old Trafford. This to my eyes was unprecendented for a match at Old Trafford, especially one where the ticket would have been so valuable on the black market. The other thing I noticed and something which I believe to be, long term, the thin end of the wedge for everybody going to a football match, were police sniffer dogs checking City fans as they were entering their part of the ground. The first site I got of City fans was on their entry into the stadium under police escort. Nowadays they, like United fans have been doing for years, were hardly wearing colours. The atmosphere in the ground was as highly charged as I’ve ever seen at Old Trafford for a derby. It’s just a shame that for all the fire coming from the terraces from United fans, particularly in the first half, the team were as listless and as flat as they have been over the last few weeks. A league title recapture would be celebrated with delirious rapture by reds but we all know that come what may, in both ways, there’s a lot of work need doing on that squad. I just hope that winning the league won’t result in a papering over the cracks.

10 thoughts on “Papering Over The Cracks – Manchester 8th of April 2013”

  1. Excellent post Murph. I think the Madrid game punctured our balloon and we have looked out of sorts ever since. We seem to be limping to the finishing line and you just have to hope that forthcoming opponents play us on our reputation rather than on the current state of the squad. Far too many of our players are out of form right now and City deserved their win last night. Having played make-do-and-mend in midfield for several years now, Ferguson simply has to push the boat out for a couple of dominant players this summer – I personally think Bale is over-rated and would come at a premium, but he might be one of them, if we can get him.

    However, we desperately need a heart-on-sleeve leader in midfield – the kind of player we haven’t had since Roy Keane. We also need a clever player who can unpick defences – someone like Silva would be great. As for the current crop, for me, Kagawa has been a huge disappointment, Cleverley is just Fletcher Mk 2 and Andes Ron remains a waste of decent pies. Only Carrick has performed consistently in our midfield this season and last night he just got swamped because Giggs was so poor. It may be time to give young Ryan Tunnicliffe a chance; he’s young but promising and maybe it’s time for United to (for once) live up to their own rhetoric about ‘youth always getting its chance’.

  2. As ever a good piece.I’ve said it many times over the past year, to you and others, but it’s been a funny old season. From converstaions we’ve had Tony, as a blue I’ve struggled to get excited about football in general this season, and the players seem to have been the same (Which is understandable if not really forgiveable!). I don’t think the season has really been helped by Arsenal and Chelsea both blowing hot and cold and both unable to mount a serious charge on the top of the table… the only predictables have been Spurs (Playing well then petering out at the end -same as every year!) and Everton who toy with Liverpool without ever really taking themselves seriously to actually achieve anything themselves(Oh and beating us as usual)

    As you say, the summer will be an interesting time, to see if the Glaziers pay out again..and if City resist throwing cash at new players…

    See ya soon

  3. Murph, I understand your slightly pessimistic view. But having seen the vast improvement of Da silva this term I plead the case of the other young players. Cleverly has levelled out, but the experience gained this season will prove very useful after a summer off. And I do mean a off, F@&k these international matches. I do agree that Tunnicliffe should be ripe for the bench, at least next season. He had the physique when in the youth team. Time to develop him is here. If nothing else it would show the Brazilian waster what effort can bring to your game. Chin up time. We lost last night to a team that had something to prove. Match that alone, and it would make me fancy United for another good chase for cups next season. Good read as ever.

  4. Murph excellent piece. Agree with so many of your observations.Utd sat back/ Kept waiting for them to power forward, never happened. Papering over cracks? No, I think not.We have young dynamic players, OUR future. Manchester Utd are special and we want to win this title with style not on goal difference.Keep your spirits up as a true Utd fan you are.

    1. Thanks Katherine, I hope you’re right about the gap of victory at the end of the season. Time will tell but I have to disagree with your faith in the long term future of some of our players. For my money, Young, Nani and Anderson have to go this summer and I wouldn’t be too upset if United could find somebody daft enough to pay £25 million for Rooney.

  5. Just come across this shit, we out-shouted, outplayed and out-thought you Munich bastards last night. You thought you won the title and Aguero ruined it again for you scum. The future is blue, this city is ours, fuck off back to London you scum AGGURRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOO Awesome

  6. Murph

    Disappointed with that game on Monday night but I’m even more disappointed that you’ve allowed a comment like the one put up by Ricky on the website. You shouldn’t be allowing low life like that a platform.

    1. Fair enough Steve,

      All I can say is that compared to some of the drivel I’ve been sent by bitters since Monday night, Ricky’s comment is the epitome of sanity. I’ve gotta say that there are good lads who are blues who frequently contribute to this blog, like Vic and Phil and long may they carry on. There are lunatics who follow all sides (including ours) but you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve read this week from City fans.

  7. Steve, I understand your distaste over those comments by that poor specimen of humanity. But you have to make allowances for these trailer park trash types, that travel in from deepest stockport. The more other fans from up and down our island that get to realise what the average bitter is about the the more I like it. The honeymoon period is well and truly over for every ones ‘SECOND CLUB’ but no ones first. What a title that was.Remember this, while that nomark is blowing his coal, he’s leaving his sisters alone. I know some genuine and respectable City fans. And they will be as appalled as any Red. Shame this prick hide in anonymity, with what is probably a fake name. Just like the average coward, The title will probably end up where it should be. Then he’ll set about the vulnerable members of his family again. Stick it to ’em Murph.

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