Ice skates and skis – Tottenham Hotspur V Manchester United January 20th 2013

If you told me immediately after the match against Tottenham last September that come the final whistle on the return game, United would be five points clear at the top of the table, I wouldn’t have believed you. United now have Liverpool, Newcastle and Tottenham completely out of the way and have played Chelsea and City away from home. Only a fool would ever take anything for granted, especially after the way last season concluded (just in case we didn’t already know) but looking at the respective fixtures both United and City have, give me United’s any day. Out of the teams in the top seven, United only have to play away at Arsenal.

Saviour: Clint Dempsey struck deep into injury-time to rescue a point for Spurs

Clint Dempsey equalises in the 2nd minute of injury time

Continue reading Ice skates and skis – Tottenham Hotspur V Manchester United January 20th 2013

Reds caught, bowled and stumped by Bale – Manchester United V Tottenham Hotspur 29th of September 2012

We can’t say this hadn’t been coming. Until today, United hadn’t lost a first team match at any level against Tottenham since May 2001. In that time, we’ve seen Tottenham blow a three goal half time lead (September 2001), concede a last minute equaliser from Carlos Tevez (February 2008) and blow a two goal half time lead (April 2009), that’s just off the top of my head. Last time the two sides met in March this year, United did a smash and grab that had the criminal fraternity purring in respect.

Alan Gilzean celebrates as a Pat Jennings’ drop kick bounces over Alex Stepney into the Scoreboard End net in the 1967 Charity Shield at Old Trafford

This fixture has traditionally, from the era of Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and Paddy Crerand playing for United and John White, Jimmy Greaves and Dave McKay playing for Tottenham been a classic match. Today was up there with the finest of those legendary matches over the last fifty years.

 Nobby Stiles tackles Jimmy Greaves during United’s 5-1 win against Tottenham in December 1965

Tottenham came to Old Trafford today and were immediately on the front foot. United had barely touched the ball before Jan Vertonghen fortuitously scored for Tottenham after 90 seconds with a deflection off Jonny Evans’ hand which bamboozled United’s now joint first choice goalkeeper, Anders Lindegaard. There may have been some luck in the goal but United’s defending in the build up to the goal was shocking. Tottenham didn’t hang back then. Like a lot of visiting sides at Old Trafford nowadays wise to the wafer thin midfield, they attacked the United defence with alarming ease. Moussa Dembélé, who’s already had one outstanding game at Old Trafford this season with Fulham, was in full control of middle of the park again today. Gareth Bale, hardly an unknown quantity, was allowed an uninterupted 50 yard run before hitting hard and low into the far post of Lindergaards,’s Stretford End net. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Bale do that over the last 3/4 years, the Laurel and Hardyesque defending from Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand was a sight to behold. Such was the ease that Tottenham were passing through United’s defence, I was quietly fearing another outcome like last season’s Old Trafford derby at half time.

Gareth Bale puts Tottenham 2-0 up on 32 minutes

With the ineffectual Ryan Giggs being replaced by Wayne Rooney at half time, the second half was the best forty five minutes of football I’ve seen United play this season. During a chaotic three minutes in the second half United scored with a great flick from Nani. This was immediately followed by more appalling defending, this time from Patrice Evra, to allow Clint Dempsey an empty net after Gareth Bale had yet again cut in on the flank to force a parried save from Lindergaard. Immediately from United re-starting the game, Robin Van Persie played a brilliant through ball to Shinji Kagawa who scored to bring it back to 3-2. From that moment on it was constant United pressure, played in front of for once, a roaring Old Trafford crowd. Tottenham fans, who in the first half made a great job actually supporting their team rather than singing songs about what great supporters they are (hello Geordies), were now getting twitchy. They’ve seen this all before with United recovering seemingly irrecoverable deficits against their side. With a perfectly good penalty shout after a Sandro Raniere handball turned down, I had a gut feeling this was going to be Tottenham’s day. United pressed constantly with Rooney hitting the post, Michael Carrick the crossbar, Van Persie shooting wide amongst many other near misses. Towards the end with four centre forwards on the pitch and an attacking fly goalie, United went kamikaze but Tottenham’s defence soaked it all up. Tottenham were lucky in the second half but the good luck they had against United yesterday had been coming. If only for United’s abysmal first half performance and their own stoic second half performance, Tottenham deserved the win.

No time for acrobatics as Nani retrieves the ball from the net having scored to bring it back to 1-2

Despite the defeat, this was one of the best games I’ve seen at Old Trafford in a long time and the second half performance from United gave heart that we might start seeing United play the way we demand they do. The atmosphere was electric for the first time a good while; Christ, even the B Stand were on their feet! More of the same next time round would be great, but does it really need a two goal deficit to wake the Old Trafford crowd up?

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

Rampant United Raid The Cottage, Manchester, 21st Of December 2011

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.

Happy Christmas