One night on Chester Road – Eric Cantona signs for United

There are some moments in life that you’ll remember exactly what you were doing and where you were. Virtually everybody of my parents’ generation remember precisely what they were doing and where they were doing it when they heard that John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated in his convertible Limousine in Dallas, November 1963. I vividly remember what I was doing when John Lennon was murdered, Princess Diana’s car crashed and the happiest memory of them all, when Eric Cantona signed for United, twenty years ago tomorrow.

Eric Cantona shields the ball from Brian Deane of Sheffield United at Elland Road in October 1992. Leeds would eventually sign Brian Deane to replace Cantona for nearly three times the price United paid for Cantona Continue reading One night on Chester Road – Eric Cantona signs for United

Rooney hat-tricks with passes from Carrick – Man United fans blog player review 2011 / 2012

(1) David De Gea

David de Gea pulls off a save for Manchester United against Athletic Bilbao

David De Gea saves against Athletic Club at Old Trafford

By the half time of David De Gea’s first class debut for United at Wembley in the 2011 Community Shield, he’d made two bad mistakes which had given City a 2-0 lead. The following week he’d made another bad error against West Brom which had contributed to their equaliser and the knives were already out for him. Undoubtedly a good shot stopper, his lanky physical presence and his early reluctance to assert his authority in the penalty area had people thinking United had signed another Massimo Taibi. Every keeper makes mistakes but any new keeper who comes to Old Trafford is going to be immediately, unfairly and virtually always negatively compared to the two great United number 1’s of the recent past, Peter Schmeichel and Edwin Van Der Sar. De Gea made further expensive mistakes against Basle in the Champions League, Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup and against Blackburn Rovers for which he was dropped immediately after. A couple of weeks later, De Gea had an inadvertant stroke of luck when the solid and reliable looking Anders Lindergaard, who’d taken De Gea’s place, suffered an ankle ligament injury. I believe this was the turning point for David De Gea. Since then he’s looked a better and more confident keeper and he’s made some outstanding saves, most memorably in the last minute at Stamford Bridge from Juan Mata and at Ewood Park with three world class saves in the first half alone. For all the doubt expressed about David De Gea in the first half this season, only once has a mistake of his actually cost United points and that was against Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Eve. As bad a mistake that was, that day, with the exception of Danny Welbeck, there was a whole team of players in red that had a stinker. I’m hoping our doughnut loving new keeper spends the summer getting to grips with his position at Old Trafford and has a long future there.

Continue reading Rooney hat-tricks with passes from Carrick – Man United fans blog player review 2011 / 2012

Bye Bye Blackburn – A review of all teams Man United have played 2011/2012

In alphabetical order, a review of the teams United have played this season.

Aldershot Town

Two days after the 6-1 defeat to City, United played Aldershot Town. The timing of the game was a godsend bearing in mind what had happened 48 hours earlier. Any outside hope that Aldershot would have had by pulling a shock off were evaporated by the City result. League Cup or not, there was no way Sir Alex Ferguson was going to tolerate a defeat to Aldershot in the aftermath of the City match. Everything went alright on the night. Travelling United fans weren’t extorted on the ticket price, United won 3-0 without getting into third gear and 4,000 loyal, salt of the earth and local club supporting Aldershot fans went to their first and last match for ten years.

A mock up picture of Sir Alex Ferguson outside Aldershot’s Recreation Ground

Continue reading Bye Bye Blackburn – A review of all teams Man United have played 2011/2012

Otelul Galati, Bring on Sunderland…Manchester, 2nd of November, 2011

Over the last two/three days, there’s been a steadying increase in received text messages received from friends of mine offering me tickets for tonights match “at face value”, which is real decent of them. As a season ticket holder, I no longer need to get a ticket for European games thanks to the Automatic cup scheme, introduced by our beloved custodians in 2007 which done away with the inconvenience of having to go to the stadium to pick up the tickets by having a compulsory direct debit attached to our season cards/tickets, tonights match cost me £42.00 to witness. Gee, thanks guys.

When all’s said and done, a win’s a win and with the present malaise around Old Trafford, a third win on the bounce was more than welcome, no matter how scrappy it was. The other match tonight in group C, between Benfica and Basle ended in 1-1 draw which means, if I’ve worked things out correctly, all United have to do is draw in Basle to be safely through to the next knockout stages. Judging by tonights performance, what happens when United end up facing a decent side could be quite a sobering experience.

Antonio Valencia scored from Phil Jones cross on eight minutes to calm a lot of nerves around Old Trafford. Anybody expecting the floodgates to open were in for a tedious surprise. There was no onslaught for Otelul Galati to contain, just a disjointed United team performance which had to make an early substitution due to thigh strain suffered by Michael Owen, replaced by Javier Hernandez. The fact that United went in at half time winning was due to the poor calibre of opposition than any other factor, with one notable exception, when David De Gea made a brilliant save from a shot from Ionut Neagu which took a deflection off Rio Ferdinand.

Half time and most of the second half passed by in a catatonic blur. I saw two young lads posing in front of a banner with the United crest on it whilst the match was in play, I saw a young couple who’d decided to get more familiar with each other and there was a flurry of text messages I received from people watching the match both in the ground and at home telling me in Anglo Saxon language what they thought of the game. Up to the 87th minute, the most exciting thing to happen in the second half was the very welcome news from my sister, via text, that Leeds United were losing 5-0 at home to Blackpool. It was just one of those nights. To finish off any faint fears that Otelul Galati could throw a spaniard in the works, Wayne Rooney had a pop from twenty yards and it took a wicked deflection off Sarghi.

I don’t wish to be too disparaging because I don’t remember any of their players or fans doing or saying anything out of order but Otelul Galati have got to be the worst opposition side I’ve seen United play since Pecsi Munkas in 1990. Walking away from the ground tonight, there was one thing that I was pondering heavily on the way home, I was wondering how the hell humanity had ever coped without mobile/cell phones. The match just witnessed, had faded into the haze of the humid Mancunian night.

Eagle’s Still Flying. Manchester, 14th of September 2011

United played Benfica three times in two famous European Cup ties in the 1960’s. Barring friendlies (one which in 1992, was Eric Cantona’s debut for United), after 1968 United went 37 years without playing the Lisboa eagles and then, like a bus, we’ve now played them six times in six years. It’s a sign of both overkill and the times that I only know two people that have gone to Lisbon for tonights match where once upon a time I would’ve known tens if not hundreds of people who’d have gone.

Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia made a first start to a competitive match this season. A far less welcome first start of the season goes to the bloody awful black & blue hooped shirts who’s only redeeming feature to me is that it’s not as bad as the Tesco bag away shirts United used in the mid 1990’s. I sometimes think that the people who design Uniteds away shirts are on a diet of bad acid. Can anybody tell me what’s wrong with having United play in red as first choice and a white shirt when having to change ?

United started well but then Benfica got a grip on the game with Cardozo scoring past the impressive Anders Lindegaard on 24 minutes. Giggs came up with a moment of magic just before half time to equalise. The match ended 1-1 and tonight I think Sir Alex Ferguson just about got away with resting Young and playing an increasingly ineffective Michael Carrick. I believe that a full strength United side would’ve beaten Benfica tonight.

It’s a real coup for ITV to get the refreshing Roy Keane as a panellist for the match, his no nonsense analysis contrast sharply with the drone of the pride of Crawley, Gareth Southgate. For some reason over the last couple of seasons, ITV have developed a penchant for conducting their half time and post match analysis pitchside. Maybe it saves them the expense of hiring a commentary booth in these times of austerity (we’re in it together and all that) but tonight they’ve come unstuck. Adrian Chiles, Gareth Southgate & Roy Keane struggled to make themselves heard with the healthy lungs of Angus Young  (AC/DC) singing, playing so loud over the stadium tannoy, they could’ve been giving a live performance in the centre circle, à la Monday night football on SKY Sports in 1992. They were stood in front of the United fans and once the AC/DC CD had been turned off, they were serenaded by United fans with their extended repertoire of songs in homage to Keane.