Rooney hat-tricks with passes from Carrick – Man United fans blog player review 2011 / 2012

(1) David De Gea

David de Gea pulls off a save for Manchester United against Athletic Bilbao

David De Gea saves against Athletic Club at Old Trafford

By the half time of David De Gea’s first class debut for United at Wembley in the 2011 Community Shield, he’d made two bad mistakes which had given City a 2-0 lead. The following week he’d made another bad error against West Brom which had contributed to their equaliser and the knives were already out for him. Undoubtedly a good shot stopper, his lanky physical presence and his early reluctance to assert his authority in the penalty area had people thinking United had signed another Massimo Taibi. Every keeper makes mistakes but any new keeper who comes to Old Trafford is going to be immediately, unfairly and virtually always negatively compared to the two great United number 1’s of the recent past, Peter Schmeichel and Edwin Van Der Sar. De Gea made further expensive mistakes against Basle in the Champions League, Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup and against Blackburn Rovers for which he was dropped immediately after. A couple of weeks later, De Gea had an inadvertant stroke of luck when the solid and reliable looking Anders Lindergaard, who’d taken De Gea’s place, suffered an ankle ligament injury. I believe this was the turning point for David De Gea. Since then he’s looked a better and more confident keeper and he’s made some outstanding saves, most memorably in the last minute at Stamford Bridge from Juan Mata and at Ewood Park with three world class saves in the first half alone. For all the doubt expressed about David De Gea in the first half this season, only once has a mistake of his actually cost United points and that was against Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Eve. As bad a mistake that was, that day, with the exception of Danny Welbeck, there was a whole team of players in red that had a stinker. I’m hoping our doughnut loving new keeper spends the summer getting to grips with his position at Old Trafford and has a long future there.

Continue reading Rooney hat-tricks with passes from Carrick – Man United fans blog player review 2011 / 2012

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

We dared to dream – Sunderland 13th of May 2012

United fans were in loud and boisterous voice at a virtually full Stadium of Light. When Wayne Rooney scored a header from a Phil Jones cross on 20 minutes after some shocking marking by Sunderland, it was no more than United deserved. Ten minutes later, Rooney hit the bar from 18 yards and then four minutes later, missed one of the easiest chances he’ll ever have from an Antonio Valencia cross. Apart from a period early in the second half, United were full control of this game but there’s always a feeling of vulnerability when only a goal in front. Today was actually United’s best performance in a few weeks; there was a professionalism to the defending and midfield play that if it had been observed in recent matches would have probably given United the title.

There was a similar potential ending in season 2009/2010 when Wigan Athletic went to Chelsea on the last day of the season and we were hoping Chelsea would drop points while United played Stoke City at Old Trafford. As expected, United beat Stoke comfortably (4-0) but what I clearly remember is Chelsea having the decency to wrap the game up against Wigan good and early, eventually winning 8-0 to extinguish any vain hope that might have been travelling around Old Trafford. This didn’t happen today. Going into injury time with United winning 1-0 and City losing 2-1, I wasn’t getting carried away with any premature celebrations. I’ve seen United recover too many impossible positions over the years to take anything for granted in football. We dared to dream but when word got back that Edin Dzeko had equalised for City, I had a feeling that with City throwing the kitchen sink against a beleaguered QPR, who’d been reduced to ten men, they would score. One thing that does make me proud is that SKY TV desperately searched around the United section in the Stadium of Light looking for somebody squawking – well done to all the lads and lasses who went their today and kept their bottle and dignity.

So now it comes to pass, the moment I felt in my guts coming after the Everton match at Old Trafford. This is the day I never thought I’d see, City are champions. It’s almost a relief. As John Cleese said in the 1986 film Clockwise, It’s not the despair, I can take the despair. It’s the hope I cant stand. The Sergio Aguero goal was a sickener but to me, the real kick in the balls came with Steven Pienaar’s late equaliser at Old Trafford three weeks ago. Despite United blowing an eight point lead, only the most red eyed United fan would deny that City aren’t worthy champions. The most annoying thing to me was that in the early part of this calendar year, United had done the hard bit and come early March, compared to City, had a very favourable run in. Having said that, any team that puts six past United at Old Trafford would deserve the title. Any title chasing team that blows a two goal lead in a home match, so close to the season’s end deserves what they ended up getting. It’s been pointed out repeatedly recently by people in the pub and on the internet that if it wasn’t for refereeing mistakes, United would’ve been four points clear of City going into this weekend. That may be true but to be clinging to straws like that is embarrassing and to my mind, the kind of behaviour that we’ve been taking the piss out of City fans for years. This is not like Blackburn Rovers in 1995 or Chelsea in 2010 when United were robbed of the title by a side who had no right winning it, this season United have only themselves to blame. All those City fans we saw jumping around outside Eastlands four years ago with tea towels wrapped around their heads have finally seen what they were dreaming of. No longer can City have the peculiar affection that the English are so good at giving to the eternal losers and that their fans have inadvertantly thrived on for years, in compensation for being shit. Welcome to our world Berties, try not to embarrass our proud city too much, from what I’ve seen over the years, I fear you will. Just remember one thing, you’ll no longer be the darling of the neutrals.

A Prayer to St Jude – Manchester 6th of May 2012

After Papiss Cissé’s goal of the season strike against Chelsea last Wednesday, there was always hope that Newcastle would make City struggle at St James Park earlier today. I’ve never been comfortable with relying on other sides to do United a favour but, needs must and all that. It quickly became apparent at Newcastle that barring a robbery, City were going to win. They looked dangerous going forward, strong in midfield and watertight at the back. In the second half, Yaya Touré, (the man whose agent, in November 2009 said, “If he leaves Barca, he will not go to Manchester City…he would sign for a more  important club”), took a grip on the game and scored twice to give City a deserved 2-0 win.

 The journey to Old Trafford was more of a subdued stumble than my usual brisk walk. If Newcastle had got a result I’d have been skipping like a kangaroo to the ground. I drove past Old Trafford about three hours before kick off to pick up the Red Issue. When there then, the weather was glorious but the sky seemed to get more grey through the day as the blue moon rose. When the game kicked off, it had all the intensity and atmosphere of a pre-season friendly. United were frenziedly chasing the ball when it went out for throws, corners or free kicks. As laudable as it is for intent, United were trying to claw back a ten goal deficit in goal difference, it all looked like a massive case of too little too late.

Swansea City, the same Swansea City that beat Man City a couple of months ago were, contrary to Roberto Mancini’s risible claim last Monday, not easy opponents. They came to Old Trafford and tried to play their usual passing game, Nathan Dyer in particular giving Patrice Evra a headache in the first half. On 28 minutes Paul Scholes scored, diverting a Michael Carrick shot with a speed of thought that he’ll never lose. Two minutes later Javier Hernandez missed a great chance to make it 2-0 but Ashley Young on 41 minutes doubled United’s lead. In the second half, the game petered out with a stubborn Swansea defence repelling a a United attack with plenty of intent but precious little invent.

Swansea fans were in great voice today. Their rendition of Evan James’s Land of My Fathers had the hairs on the back of my neck standing. They had a very funny song to the tune of Sloop John B about Scotty Sinclair and Rosie Webster but then they came out with all the usual generic bollocks about supporting their local team. United fans were understandably deflated with the result at Newcastle earlier in the day but the truth be told, barring the home game against Liverpool, the atmosphere from United fans at Old Trafford has been lamentable this season (when United fans can’t get wound up for the visit of Liverpool will be the day to really worry). Towards the end of the game, the Stretford End came up with a rousing Red flag. Originally a song adopted by United fans in the wake of the Munich  air disaster (and not originated by Chelsea despite what that pillock John Motson may say) it has become over the years, a song of defiance. It’s a bit like We’ll Support You Evermore, a song of consolation to a team that’s ultimately about to come up short. After the match, I reckon a good chunk of people who were singing the aforementioned anthems with such passion and fervour, left the ground without applauding the players on their traditional end of season lap of honour. Alex Ferguson said in the post match speech, to his adoring masses of a two thirds full stadium that Hopefully next week will be the biggest celebration of our lives. If that happens, he’ll be spot on, there’s no question about that. In the meantime, fellow Reds, especially any with a religious conviction, join me in a prayer to St Jude. AMEN