Real Madrid have to play Barcelona twice immediately before the return leg at Old Trafford in three weeks time. I’ve heard it said that Jose Mourinho might shuffle his squad around for those matches, but like United against Liverpool, pragmatism goes out of the window when the el classico is played. Madridistas would, under no circumstances forgive a half cocked effort against Barcelona any more than we would against Liverpool.
Twice in a week, eleven months ago, United were outclassed by a team from Bilbao who didn’t even qualify for this seasons Champions League. On those nights against Athletic Club, United looked light years behind a team that eventually finished 10th in La Liga. Tonight in the Bernabau, in front of a full house and the biggest United none final following since Milan in 2005, United got a very well deserved draw. It could have been so much more Continue reading Lunatics With Semi Military Power – Madrid February 13th 2013
Former landlord of The Park in Altrincham and 1960s United midfield legend Paddy Crerand said tonight in his programme column that it would be good for United to have qualification from this group wrapped up as soon as possible. Whilst that may be obvious he pointed out that Uniteds last game in the group stage is a home match against Cluj, three days before they play City at the tripe colony. That same week, City have a potentially gruelling match at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund, not a game they’d really want in the run up to a derby. As per usual this season, United made their best efforts to sabotage them wise plans by yet again going to sleep early in the game to gift the opposition the lead. Continue reading Three card Braga – Manchester United V Sporting Clube de Braga , Old Trafford 23rd of October 2012
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.
In alphabetical order, a review of the teams United have played this season.
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
For the third season in succesion, United have been knocked out of the FA cup by loathed rivals. The previous two defeats against Leeds in January 2010 and City in April 2011 were deserved. This loss at the home of the once mighty, once proud, Liverpool FC was not. United controlled this game almost throughout, yet blew it with poor communication at the end to gift the industrious but mediocre Dirk Kuyt the winner. I understand that Liverpool fans enjoy watching their team beat United as much as I and my fellow reds enjoy seeing United beat, preferably destroy, them but the Liverpool players’ reaction to the final whistle spoke volumes. With all their high fives, hugging and clenched fist gestures to the Anfield Road and Kemlyn Road stands, you would have though they had just won the cup rather than just knocked out their main rivals in the 4th, repeat 4th round. Could you imagine the great Liverpool sides of Souness, Dalglish, Hansen, McDermott et al celebrating a win in the 4th round of the FA Cup in the same manner? Liverpool of that era prided themselves on their business as usual attitude to any victory apart from a cup final or title clincher. I suggest the gleeful Scousers that were watching today’s match at Anfield dig out their Liverpool FC 1970s/1980s DVDs and get all dewy eyed over them as they will never see a team like that again.
United banner for Anfield yesterday (Photo courtesy of Gareth Edwards)