Fasten Your Seatbelts – Manchester 4th of December 2013

Anybody who remembers the last time Everton won at Old Trafford in August 1992, will remember a smash ‘n’ grab which gave Everton an unfairly emphatic 3-0 result. Tonight was the same, Everton had chances for sure and the longer the match went on, the more confident and assertive they became. For all that, by the time Everton got a grip on the game on 85 minutes with a Kevin Mirallas free kick which hit David De Gea’s right hand post, United should’ve been out of sight. A minute later, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Continue reading Fasten Your Seatbelts – Manchester 4th of December 2013

A Megaphone And The Truth – Manchester 23rd of October 2013

Tonight was the trial run for the ‘Singing Section’, to be situated in the L stand at Old Trafford, the usual place where away fans are allocated. The idea of the singing section is nothing new. It was mentioned frequently in the fanzines in the mid to late 1990’s and after much lobbying by IMUSA, was finally opened in the second tier of the Stretford End in 2001. Having watched matches in that part of the ground in that era, I can well remember the lads ‘n’ lasses in there making plenty of noise but because it was an enclosed part of the ground at the time, the noise stayed within confines and could barely be heard in the lower tier of the Stretford End, never mind the rest of the ground. With it now being re-placed to the L stand and the whole stadium as their audio audience, the singing section made plenty of noise and the whole exercise was very encouraging. It is a great idea to have a group of like minded people together who want to create an atmosphere rather than have them scattered around the ground like piffy. The enclosure was an experiment for tonight’s game. From what my eyes showed, it should not only be encouraged, but implemented as quickly as possible as it enhanced the atmosphere immeasurably. This time last year at Old Trafford, United played Sporting Braga and the only atmosphere in the ground was provided by pre pubescent children who were there en masse via free tickets sent to their schools. By all means have groups of kids in the ground on freebies, but it is embarrassing when they set the benchmark for the vocal support. The regular use of the L stand for United’s more boisterous fans can’t come quickly enough.

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Ryan Giggs about to take a short corner and get caught offside seconds later when Wayne Rooney returned the ball to him (Photo courtesy of Neil Meehan)

Continue reading A Megaphone And The Truth – Manchester 23rd of October 2013

United suckerpunch puts Braga’s lights out – Sporting Clube de Braga V Manchester United , 7th of November 2012

In 1974 and 1975, Muhammad Ali famously fought George Foreman and Joe Frazier in legendary fights that became known respectively as The Rumble in the Jungle and The Thriller in Manilla. Up until the 80th minute tonight, United were drivel in the drizzle as the played sorry in the quarry. Then out of the blue following a speculative ball played from Uniteds right back position, Robin van Persie capitalised on an error by Braga goalkeeper Beto who had found himself hopelessly out of position, to lob home an unexpected equaliser.

Level pegging: Van Persie latched on to Ryan Giggs' wonderful free-kick to embarrass Beto with a smart finish

Robin Van Persie equalises for United on 80 minutes Continue reading United suckerpunch puts Braga’s lights out – Sporting Clube de Braga V Manchester United , 7th of November 2012

Crying Wolves Slayed By The Red Devils, Manchester, 10th of December, 2011

This is just the oposition United needed after recent setbacks. Wolves are a typical Mick McCarthy team, plenty of bottle, fight, heart but also like every Mick McCarthy team I can remember, both as a player and as a manager, shit. That United only scored four is down to some sloppy finishing from the reds and some great saves from Wolves keeper, Wayne Hennessy. This was as comfortable a performance as was possible for United under the circumstances. On 17 minutes, Nani scored a goal that was almost a carbon copy of the goal he scored against Liverpool in front of the Stretford End in March 2008. Ten minutes later, Wayne Rooney scored his first goal in open play since his goal in first half injury time, against Chelsea in September. With three senior United strikers out injured at the moment, this was a great time to pick up his scoring form.

With United cruising nicely against the toothless Wolves up to half time, it was a little surprise in the 47th minute when Steven Fletcher headed high into the United net in the old Scoreboard End. With this being Wolves though, there was no onslaught or pressure forthcoming in search of an equaliser, I believe both the players and the fans of Wolves were equally as gobsmacked as the United fans that they’d scored. Just in case there was any worry of a Wolves comeback, Nani made the game safe nine minutes later and Wayne Rooney got another five minutes later. United were comfortable enough to bring on Ezekiel Fryers on 67 minutes for Patrice Evra and Federico Macheda on 75 minutes for Danny Welbeck.

The other thing I noticed in this game was Nani making a “reverse pass” to Danny Welbeck on 65 minutes. I saw Ryan Giggs do the same pass on Wednesday, proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks. This is a pass which is David Silva’s speciality, I first saw him do it in the Old Trafford derby last February and it created chaos amongst United’s defence, he did the same thing to more devastating effect in October. The look on defenders’ faces, who are running out trying to play opposing forwards offside, only to be confronted with this pass is a picture.

The atmosphere today was a massive improvement on recent games. United fans rallied well to encourage the team from the off. The Stretford End and the K Stand really found their voices to provide a warm, sometimes hot atmosphere on a freezing day. The Wolves fans, were noisy for their big day out to Old Trafford. They sang the hurtful and cutting *Fuuurzdi noyts, shannul foiv (English translation below) and **du blik kun-troy buoyzz, (translated below), listening to this lot sing, it’s hard to comprehend or believe that this part of the world gifted us the singer that is Robert Plant. I will give the Wolves fans one thing, they had a refreshing attitude to supporting their team, instead of singing the tedious self celebrating we support our local team that I normally hear from opposing fans at Old Trafford, they actually adopted the novel idea of actually supporting their team. Points docked though for doing the piss poor look at us, aren’t we wacky Poznan dance.

There are certain clubs who have such history and substance that the footballing romantic/sentimentalist in me believes belong in the top division, Blackpool are one, Notts County another, Wolverhampton Wanderers also belong in that company. Despite not having won a trophy since winning the League cup in 1980, when Andy Gray capitalised on a rare and comical howler from Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Peter Shilton to score into an empty net against the reigning European champions. Alongside Matt Busby, Stan Cullis, Wolves manager from 1948 to 1964, was a pioneer in European football. After Wolves won the title in 1954, Cullis arranged friendlies against teams like Real Madrid, Borrusia Dortmund and the “magical Magyars” of Honved from Hungary. These games gave president Ebbe Schwartz, from the newly formed UEFA, the idea of European Cup. Wolves have made a contribution to the football we watch today that no amount of money can buy. They were the “glamour” club of the 50s, a club which a young George Best in Cregagh, Belfast was a fan of.

* Thursday nights, Channel Five

** The black country boys