Walking down Stretford Road on the way to Old Trafford tonight, I had a gut feeling that the game I was about to witness was not going to be a classic. The smell of the doughnut van parked up on the junction of Stretford Road and Chester Road has left a stronger and more pleasant memory than anything I witnessed on the pitch. Halfway through the second half, the 700 or so pre-pubescant kids that were congregated in the L stand were engaged in a chanting competition with the Cluj fans. It was by some distance the most entertaining occurence on a night of football so indescribably bad and on a night so cold that it is believed that Vladimir Lenin was shivering in his Mausoleum. After the full time whistle I felt more inclined to applaud the kids in the L stand than anybody wearing a red shirt on the pitch. Cluj won with a fantastic 25 yard shot from Luis Alberto on 56 minutes but were knocked out of the Champions League due to Galatasaray’s win in Portugal. On 75 minutes, stadium MC Alan Keegan announced a crowd of 71,521 to laughs of derision from all around me. I don’t believe there was any more than 55,000 in Old Trafford tonight. Years ago, in the days of pay on the gate, squeezed in the Stretford Paddock and knowing there was at least 52,000 in the crowd, the crowd was sometimes underestimated to something like 45,000 and you knew somebody at Old Trafford was on a collosal fiddle. Nowadays it’s the other way round. Whoever came up with that crowd figure for tonight must’ve been the same person whom over the summer made the risible claim that United have 659 million fans worldwide. One more thing I learnt tonight was that with United avoiding a draw, it is now, According to Man United magazine columnist Steve Bartram, Uniteds longest run without a draw since 1896 (26 games). I bet that you really wanted to know that.
United side for tonights match
Continue reading Doughnut van on Stretford Road – Manchester United V CFR 1907 Cluj 5th of December 2012
After tonights match, a smart arse Turkish journalist stated to Sir Alex Ferguson, “You were disappointed in ’93 and again now. Anything changed in 19 yrs?”, to which our manager replied “Yes, we’ve won it twice.” I’m sure Sir Alex Ferguson was disapointed to lose tonight but to compare it with going out to them in 1993 on the away goals rule is a bit much. There was an experimental side out from United tonight and whilst it wasn’t a vintage performance, it was United’s best showing so far in this competition which paradoxically yielded United’s first defeat. The winning goal was down to naive marking by United’s midfield summer signing Nick Powell. Burak Yilmaz was allowed a free header on 54 minutes from a corner which was the result of an outstanding save from Anders Lindergaard moments earlier. Like Chelsea the other week, if these young players are going to make these mistakes then nights like tonight are the perfect time to make them. Apart from that error, Nick Powell struck me tonight as somebody who’s got a big future.
Burak Yilmaz scores the winner for Galatasaray on 54 minutes Continue reading We’ve won it twice – Galatasaray V Manchester United 20th 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.
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
What a mad week it’s been. First we see United for the first time in donkeys years get positive contentious decisions at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea themselves make a stand on racism, Chelsea of course are a club who’s supporters are well known for their passionate views on racism. We had Arsenal on Tuesday night taking part in one of the best matches I’ve ever seen as a neutral. I’ve only ever twice seen a match where teams recover from a four goal deficit and both of them games have occured in the last two years and both have involved Arsenal. On the same night as United played Chelsea again at Stamford Bridge in the League cup there was a report of children in Royton, Lancashire instead of being given sherbet dip whilst out trick-or-treating, were given Cocaine. Jack Wilshere’s rehablitation from a fifteen month injury lay off continued and also stagnated today when he was sent off two minutes after Patrice Evra had score what turned out to be the winning goal. Wilshere was given a second yellow card for a tackle I believe was a red card in its own right. Halfway through the second half, Patrice Evra had shown Uniteds wasteful forwards how to put the ball away when he headed United into a 2-0 lead. By that time, United should’ve been out of sight. As it happened, Arsenal were outclassed and only with literally the last kick of the game did Santi Cazorla give the score a far closer look than merited when he made it 1-2 to the Arsenal
Patrice Evra makes the score 2-0 on 67 minutes Continue reading 1-2 to the Arsenal – Manchester United V Arsenal 3rd of November 2012
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