At All Costs – Manchester 22nd February 2015

Last time United played a competitive match outside of England, they took a lead which lasted just under a minute. Yesterday at Swansea City, coming in at just over two minutes, it lasted twice that time, when Ki Sung-Yueng equalised after half an hour was played. I suppose that’s a form of progress.

United scored against the run of play in the 28th minute when an Ander Herrera shot was deflected Continue reading At All Costs – Manchester 22nd February 2015

Off The Back Of A Fag Packet – Preston 16th February 2015

Yet another poor United performance, particularly in the first half, has been covered by the fact that on the appearance of the scoreline, United won easily. Truth is, United only got going after Scott Laird had given Preston North End the lead early in the second half when his shot deflected off Antonio Valencia’s left foot through David de Gea’s hands.

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The happy chaos which greeted Marouane Fellaini’s goal in the 72nd minute

What a sight it was that greeted us after that goal. As we stood on the Bill Shankly Kop, to our left in the Pavillion stand, we were greeted by the biggest bunch of let me at ’em merchants witnessed since we last played Stoke City. Suddenly, Continue reading Off The Back Of A Fag Packet – Preston 16th February 2015

Blind Burst The Blowing Bubble – East London, February 8th, 2015

Near me in the Trevor Brooking stand at the Boleyn Ground, some reds were saying this was the worst they had ever seen United. As per usual when United are playing rubbish, people overstate just how bad it is. The performance today was in my opinion, not even the worst United showing in the last three weeks, never mind ever (that award definitely goes to Cambridge away). Allowing for that, this was bad. Yet another diabolical performance which ended up with United getting a scabby, scarcely deserved but much needed draw. For that reason, this could end up being a great result for United.

I’m convinced that United thought they were playing rugby in the first half, such was the reluctance to pass the ball forward. When Marouane Fellaini came on for Adnan Januzaj in the 70th minute, United resorted to another tactic that was more familiar with the oval ball game by punting the ball upfield, aiming for the big Belgian. As limited as we all know Fellaini to be, he at least made a nuisance of himself, which is more than virtually anybody else in a United shirt did today. Fellaini’s push in the back on Kouyate in injury time helped set up Daley Blind for United’s equaliser.

Luke Shaw, in my opinion probably United’s best outfield player today, was sent off in stoppage time for a second booking. Robin van Persie did force a couple of saves from Adrian. Then we have Angel di Maria, oh dear di Maria. Some players can have bad days and bad games, they’re  human and can’t be brilliant every time. However di Maria looks half hearted when he’s playing for United. That is unacceptable and I don’t care whether he cost £60 or £60m. A bad game can be forgiven, playing as half hearted as he did, both today and in recent games is a lot harder to forgive. Virtually everybody knows that barring a change in fortune that would startle Aristotle, Radamel Falcao is leaving Old Trafford at the end of the season. Looking at di Maria recently, I have a feeling that he will also be getting a tram from Trafford Bar to Ringway Airport alongside Falcao, for a move back to a type of football where he can avoid big and ugly full backs not being very nice to him. It could be best for both parties on recent evidence.

After the match and no doubt in the press over the next couple of days, we’ll hear the usual shit about United scoring in Fergie time (sic) and how referees give United enough stoppage time to get the necessary goal. What probably won’t be pointed out is that West Ham goalkeeper, Adrian, was booked for time-wasting by referee Mark Clattenburg in the 78th minute. Clattenburg had warned Adrian about that earlier in the second half. This gamesmanship is viewed as good professionalism when players get away with it. When they don’t, it’s the poor practice which cost a deserving side, in this case West Ham, the full three points. Perhaps these raging conspiracy theorists, who seem to genuinely think that referees give enough injury time for United to score, should bear this in mind (assuming they have one) next time their players are wasting time.

Yet again a full turnout of travelling reds were served up a tepid and worst of all, boring display from United. Can anybody reading this remember a brilliant United performance this season apart from the Boxing Day display against Newcastle? (and even that’s a generous description). The two best wins have been against Liverpool and Arsenal, but beating those teams (particularly Liverpool), is always a great result. United robbed Arsenal in such a way, that reds were still laughing heartily as we came back into town that night. It was not a good performance. Louis van Gaal is having the luck with some results, a luck that was cruelly denied to David Moyes last season. Ernest Hemmingway once famously said that “you make your own luck”, if United get back into the Champions League come the end of May, then it will be likely that van Gaal will be echoing that sentiment. Whatever happens though, United fans won’t tolerate this kind of tedium over a long term basis, especially if it doesn’t achieve the desired or its expected result.

Liverpool drew yesterday and Arsenal very helpfully lost, so it’s pretty much as we are for another weekend. West Ham have had a couple of decent results this season and with the terrible game from United today, this is under the circumstances, definitely a point gained. As an added bonus, I got a few texts as I was walking out of the ground telling me that Martin Tyler’s response to the goal was akin to a man who had just been told that his accumulator had been ruined. Daley Blind burst the blowing bubble for Tyler, this gives me even more reason to be grateful to the Dutchman.

Friday saw the 57th anniversary of the aircraft crash Munich-Riem airport, which eventually resulted in the deaths of twenty three men who were on that aircraft. As poor as todays game was and the United performance to boot, everybody who went to the game and played in it, got home tonight. The people listed below never did and when you think about it, a poor performance from United is a mere triviality in comparison.

Remember the Flowers of Manchester

Geoff Bent

Roger Byrne

Tom Cable

Alf Clarke

Eddie Colman

Tom Curry

Walter Crickmer

Donnie Davies

Duncan Edwards

George Follows

Tom Jackson

Mark Jones

Archie Ledbrooke

Bela Miklos

David Pegg

Captain Kenneth Rayment

Henry Rose

Willie Satinoff

Frank Swift

Tommy Taylor

Eric Thompson

Bert Whalley

Liam Whelan

On Freezing Cold Nights And Days In The Sun – Manchester, 3rd February 2015

Fifty one seconds is all it took for this match to come to life. A poor Daley Blind backpass was seized on by Tom Elliott. The big Cambridge centre forward ran through on goal, beat David de Gea and hit the United keepers left hand post before rolling out safely for a goal kick. I was in the ground watching this comedy so I couldn’t hear what was being said on live television, but I bet my season ticket that Ian Darke, the commentator for BT Sports, was dreaming of his Ronnie Radford moment as Elliott ran clean through. As I write this immediately after the match, I wonder who will rue that miss more, Darke or Elliott.

On Saturday, United went through the motions beating a feisty pub side from Leicester 3-1. Tonight, the visitors from Cambridge gave a far more convincing and credible showing. Like Saturday however, the match was over as a realistic contest by half time. Angel Di Maria played the ball to the ball to the far post for Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian headed down into the six yard box and with the outside of his left foot, Juan Mata hacked the ball into the Scoreboard End net in the 25th minute. Seven minutes later, Marcos Rojo scored his first goal for United. From six yards, the Argentine centre half glanced a header into the right-hand side of the net past Chris Dunn, the pink clad Cambridge keeper, after a brilliant Robin van Persie cross. In the 71st minute, James Wilson made the score 3-0 with a low shot from twenty yards into the Stretford End net. This capped the scoring off for the night and thus, duplicated the score of previous time Cambridge United played at Old Trafford in September 1991, for a League Cup tie.

On freezing cold nights, both eleven nights ago and tonight, Cambridge United football club and their loyal fans, who support their local team and take 6,500 to every away game, have had their metaphorical days in the sun. As I got back to my car near the Abbey Stadium after that shambles in the first game, I found a text from United on my mobile phone. Great I thought, an apology from United for the piss poor effort I’d just witnessed. I was wrong to think that. With a speed and efficiency that the United first team could only dream of, United’s ticket office showed them the way by telling reds that they were to have £30/45 debited from their accounts on Monday for the replay.

Radamel Falcao celebrates putting United 2-0 up against Leicester City on Saturday

In the week following that debacle, the country was in the thrall of yellow snow warnings. United decided they couldn’t be left out of all this and they excelled themselves in the aftermath of that appalling display at Cambridge. In a customer service manoeuvre so crass that it would have Michael O’Leary of Ryanair wincing, United sent out text messages and emails, giving season ticket holders whose card details had expired in the last six months, thirty six hours to pay for this replay or they would have to serve a one match suspension for the Sunderland match on the 28th of February. Most people wouldn’t have got their first post Christmas pay packet until the day after the deadline, but United with breathtaking arrogance were not offering any flexibility. The coup de grace was the imposition of a booking fee on top of the replay ticket for people who had waited, in some cases over half an hour, on hold to United’s ticket office. This is probably the most egregious example of the odious automatic cup scheme, which was first imposed on season ticket holders in 2007.

The D Stand at Old Trafford on 85 minutes

I’m not au fait as to how many people failed to get their payment to the ticket office on time, but with an official attendance tonight of 74,511 most Season ticket holders obviously did (there was nowhere near that many in the ground). Most of those people who begged, borrowed or stole to pay for the ticket tonight, will be falling over themselves to get a ticket for United’s first visit to Preston since 1972. I will be one of them, but with the vulgar way United have dealt with the ticket payments for this replay, I do sometimes wonder why so much effort is to put into it. See you at West Ham