Chasing Shadows – Manchester 13th April 2015

Despite Manchester City being erratic lately, I expected them to turn up at Old Trafford yesterday and for the first ten minutes, they did. They had Manchester United chasing shadows. In the 6th minute, Jesus Navas brilliantly beat United’s offside trap and only a poor finish stopped City going a goal up. Two minutes later, James Miner fed David Silva on the left flank who, in turn, set Sergio Aguero up to make it 1-0 in front of the Stretford End. Seeing this goal had me wondering if United’s defence will ever learn. Silva is the best player I have ever seen in a City shirt and over the years, I’ve repeatedly seen him tear down the left flank against United and set up a goal.

With United caught on the back foot, City inexplicably took their foot off the pedal, Continue reading Chasing Shadows – Manchester 13th April 2015

See You At The Other Side – West Bromwich 20th October 2014

Thank God the football is back. Since United last played a match, a 2-1 win against Everton on what seems like a lifetime ago, Roy Keane has released a book every bit as blunt as everybody expected it to be. Everybody seems to have forgotten Rio Ferdinand’s relatively bland tome released just prior to Keane’s second memoir. The most interesting thing to emerge from Ferdinand’s book was the shocking revelation that David Moyes had banned United players from eating oven chips the day/night before a match. It’s fair to say that Keane’s book has been a little bit more interesting than that.

First half at The Hawthorns as West Brom attack the Smethwick End (photo courtesy of Daniel Burdett)

We also had two sleep inducing matches where England won on their march to inevitable European glory/first round knockout in 2016. Last Sunday saw The Sun on Sunday with the startling revelation that Antonio Valencia is as good at delivering photographs of himself to the right place as he is delivering a cross. Continue reading See You At The Other Side – West Bromwich 20th October 2014

Our Version Of Laurel And Hardy – Manchester 25th of March 2014

Sometimes and this is most definitely one of them, you have to just hold your hands up and admit that you’ve just seen your side outclassed. From literally the kick off, City were the better side. United were murdered by Liverpool the other week but at least considered the idea of giving them a game for the first half hour. United were level against City for just over half a minute tonight. United’s third touch of the ball was the centre ball they had after City had gone in front. A Samir Nasri shot hit David De Gea’s near right hand Stretford End post and out for Edin Dzeko. Not even Dzeko could miss from that distance although by putting the ball in the roof of the net, he had a good go at it.

Continue reading Our Version Of Laurel And Hardy – Manchester 25th of March 2014

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