Watching the celebrating humbug resembling balloons supporting the toon on Warwick Road post match, I thought some of them were on the verge of giving birth, such was the vigour of the grunts and screams emanating from their mouths. I’m confident that today’s result will be soon etched on Newcastle United’s unburdened honours list alongside the signings of Kevin Keegan in 1982 and Alan Shearer in 1996, the 5-0 victory against United in the same year, as well as being the peoples champions when they blew a twelve point lead in the title race. Many years and many tears have been shed since then, enough to burst the banks of the Tyne and only the most churlish would begrudge them their day in the sun, like they had today. (trust me, if you’ve ever been to Newcastle, then anywhere south of Leeds is a day in the sun no matter what the weather). Continue reading In Serene Indifference – Manchester, 7th of December 2013
(1) David De Gea
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.
Consensus amongst Reds on the quiet was that there would be disappointment if United didn’t make a decent dent into City’s superior goal difference today. Last season, United put seven goals past a better Blackburn side that took to the pitch for this match. Before today’s match, Blackburn had won two league games all season although they had gone to Anfield on Boxing Day and surprised everybody by getting a draw there, everybody, Blackburn Rovers fans included, were expecting a comfortable win for United. After a busy but flat footed start from United, Blackburn’s first attack yielded a penalty when Dimitar Berbatov pulled Christopher Samba over, just inside the United area, on sixteen minutes, to help referee Mike Dean, make probably the only correct decision he made all day. Mike Dean had a stinker of a game, denying United a blatant penalty about five minutes later, when Evra was tripped up in the Blackburn box on an overlapping run and constantly allowing Blackburn goalkeeper, Mark Bunn, to waste time on goal kicks after Blackburn had scored. The fact that Blackburn were wasting time in the first half is a good guide to the mentality of this backward club. Continue reading Rovers Return To Win At Old Trafford. Manchester, 31st Of December 2011
Boxing day in Wigan is traditionally a fancy dress day. This explains why 200/300 of their travelling 1500 army came dressed as bananas yesterday, there were other more free thinking ones who came dressed as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Lennie the Lion. The rest of the Wigan fans just sat there, so much so that I was beginning to wonder if they’d borrowed some cast offs from Madame Tussauds in Blackpool to pad out the pathetically low turnout of away fans on a bank holiday for a match that is sixteen miles from their hometown. Wigan, like Leeds, is a rugby league town that just happens to have a football team attached to it. Leeds have found their true and correct place in the second flight and hopefully will stay there ad infinitum, I have a feeling that Wigan are gonna be joining them there this summer, having stayed in the Premier League with admirable resilience, since 2005. Wigan are beginning to remind me of Wimbledon, who had an abnormally long stay in the top flight before being relegated, moving fifty odd miles away to Milton Keynes and completly losing their identity in the process. Like Wimbledon, Wigan’s support in regards to numbers is lamentable, when a club can’t sell out their ground for the visit of United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, then to my eyes, they have no business being in the top division. I could sit here all night taking the piss out of Wigan, but it’s a bit like kicking a puppy. At least the fans who came to Old Trafford yesterday dressed as bananas did try and create an atmosphere. They were, in the second half suddenly celebrating an imaginary goal, I was begining to think that they’d been on Ken Kesey’s favourite medication, then they tried riling a pretty bored K Stand by singing City’s Mancini song, to the tune of Volare and about City’s recent 6-1 win at Old Trafford. United fans ignored them in a way an adult would ignore a child jumping up and down saying look at me. United fans, myself included here, were looking forward to going back to the pub to carry on with the festive drinking session that always occurs on Boxing Day and which had been rudely interrupted by, unusually for United, a 3PM kick off.
At 11.15 Monday night, I got a text off a friend of a friend in Brighton, telling me there was three tickets available for the match at Craven Cottage on Wednesday at £50.00QPR apiece. I accepted at once and having made plans to go down to Fulham, I got a pretty underwhelming text off the same kid, telling me the tickets had actually been sold last night before he’d texted me, but he didn’t know this at the time. I could’ve gone down on spec, like I’d done for the game at QPR, but there’s a massive difference between going to London at the weekend without a ticket and all the hassle and mither of going there on a Wednesday night ticketless (going straight from work, Wednesbury at rush hour, getting home at 3am and up for work three hours later, etc).
This is the first United match this season that I’ve either not watched in the flesh or live on the television, SKY sports had decided tonight to show the goalless draw between Wigan Athletic & Liverpool live, I believe so as to get one of their quota of crap matches out of the way, satisfy a contractual obligation with the Premier League and maintain a veneer of equality. Having failed to get any kind stream on the internet showing the match, I kept in touch with the match via the very old fashioned method of listening to the commentary on Talksport for the first half. By half time United were 3-0 up with Danny Wellbeck, Nani and Ryan Giggs scoring. Giggs scored his first league goal of the season and also by doing that, scored for the 22nd consecutive season.
Listening to the match on the radio is definetly more stressful than watching it on the telly or in the ground as you can obviously only use your imagination to picture what’s going on. In my formative years of being a United fan, in the 1980s, there wasn’t the saturation television coverage of football that we get now, we’d get something like five/six games a season live on television, seven or eight in a good year. Myself and fellow reds of my age were at the mercy of Piccadilly radio’s United correspondant , Tom Tyrell. A man so biased that he makes Paddy Crerand sound like Bob Wilson, he’s the only man I’ve ever come across who could induce heart failure in an eleven year old boy. With United running rampant by half time, there was none of the heart stopping moments that radio commentary gives you and by sixty minutes, I’d managed to find a stop/start stream of the match and United were in cruise control. On 88 minutes, Wayne Rooney let fly with a scorcher of shot, the kind a striker plays when his team’s winning 3-0. It was, to then, easily the best goal of the night and it was a nice way to wrap up a comfortable win. Dimitar Berbatov though had other ideas when a couple of minutes later, he backheeled an Antonio Valencia cross in the bottom left hand corner of the Fulham net to score a goal very similar to the famous one Denis Law scored for City in front of the Scoreboard End of Old Trafford in 1974.
The only other thing I can remember from tonight of significance was when Phil Jones was clobbered by Clint Dempsey’s elbow in the second minute. Having seen the replay, I genuinely think it was an accident. Dempsey is an honest lad, he looked pretty gutted to have done what he’d done. Jones, hard bastard that he is, played on for twenty minutes but was obviously not right, I’m just hoping it won’t cause his absence from the United team for too long. With the physios room at the moment at Old Trafford resembling the M62 rush hour, he’ll be badly missed if he’s out too long.