Goodness Gracious – Stoke, January 1st 2015

Piccadilly rail station, 10.25 AM and it is deserted as the Euston bound trains were going out to Stoke for this game. I have never seen this arterial train station so quiet. Gradually some hungover reds turned up. They were saying variants of goodness gracious* as for the second time in a week, they’d had an early kick off imposed on them by the whims of live TV. However, compared to getting to Tottenham for a midday kick off, this was a doddle.

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Ryan Shawcross losing Phil Jones in the 2nd minute. Seconds later, he put Stoke 1-0 in front 

Once out of the train station at Stoke, some more savvy reds Continue reading Goodness Gracious – Stoke, January 1st 2015

He Has No Laurel

United’s pre-season has gone well. Wins against Roma, Real Madrid, Liverpool and, mostly recent, against Valencia two nights ago, are always welcome, if not exactly an accurate barometer of what the team’s real capability is.

Looking at the match the other night, there’s clearly the need for at least one new player in the squad. Fear not though, we can be rest assured that Ed Woodward is on the case in that regard. Like the good poker player he no doubt is, Woodward will get us a good deal. On the 20th of July, Woodward told MUTV “There is no fixed budget. Financially we are extremely strong, we have funds available”. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’ll surprise us all and pull a rabbit, or preferably a marauding centre half, out of the hat.

In the summer of 2013, United were linked with, amongst many others, Cristiano Ronaldo (The Guardian), Gareth Bale (Irish Independent) and Cesc Fabregas (The Guardian). Instead of those three, Woodward ended up in a blind panic paying Everton £27.5m for the hapless Marouane Fellaini. That’s four million pound more than he could have paid a few weeks earlier if he had activated Fellaini’s “escape clause” from Everton before it expired. It is rumoured that Bill Kenwright has only just stopped laughing after last Summer’s dealings. The less said about the bid for Leighton Baines, the better. Perhaps Woodward’s biggest difficulty is that though he may be a good Hardy, he has no Laurel beside him. Continue reading He Has No Laurel

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

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