Life On Mars – East London 17th of April 2013

On Monday just gone through sheer curiosity and the enticement of free entry, I went  to United reserves/under 21s match against Tottenham Hotspur at Salford rugby league clubs new stadium on the other side of the Barton Bridge. Sir Alex Ferguson was in a crowd of 2,183 for a match United won 1-0 with a second half goal from Ryan Tunnicliffe. Before the winning goal, there was a floodlight failure on 38 minutes and the referee stopped play. I was thinking surely the far Eastern betting syndicates haven’t nobbled this match? Three minutes later, the match resumed with the lights still out. Seconds before half time, we had a tannoy announcement which said there had been a power cut locally. It had me thinking of what it must have been like in the early 1970s and just as another train of thought came to me, I saw a pitchside advert promoting BRUT aftershave. I began to think I was in an episode of ‘Life on Mars’, maybe there was more to David Bowie’s recent comeback than first met the eye and since then I’ve been waiting for the announcement of another three day week in this era of austerity. At the weekend we also had the revelation from the excellent reds away website (please see bottom of the page), who had procured the GMP attendance figure from a freedom of information request which ‘revealed’, amongst many other things, that there was 5,000 empty seats for the Liverpool fixture at Old Trafford in January just passed. With this information, blues and scousers gleefully gloated on the radio and internet about the exaggeration of United’s attendances at Old Trafford. Blues, bless ’em, I’d forgive. In recent times they have been as excitable as a fourteen year old lad who’s just been smiled at by the pretty girl in the year above but scousers really should know better than to take these figures as gospel. For twenty four years, they have been correctly fighting and contesting the deceitful police account over what happened at Owlerton in April 1989, but when the police say something they want to be true then lo and behold it suddenly is incontestably so.

United players applauding the traveling reds in the Trevor Brooking stand

United players applauding the traveling reds in the Trevor Brooking stand (photograph courtesy of Lee Thomas)

In the run up to tonight’s match at the Boleyn Ground, there was nothing like the anxiety which hung thick in the air before the Stoke City match last Sunday. There was a calm confidence amongst reds walking down Barking Road tonight as United were readying to play a side who haven’t beaten them in the league since December 2007. Unlike the pathetic Stoke side though, West Ham were, unsurprisingly up for this game. In the 16th minute, West Ham went 1-0 in front with a goal from Portuguese forward Ricardo Vaz Tê on the counter attack who diverted an Andy Carroll header into the net. Fifteen minutes later, United equalised after brilliant work from an unflappable Shinji Kagawa found Antonio Valencia unmarked for him to score his first goal since that belter at Ewood Park just over a year ago. Valencia seemed to grow two inches after that goal. Suddenly, he was hungry and confident buzzing all around the pitch and resembling the player he was last season when he was the supporters player of the season. Valencia isn’t quiet back to his best yet but the signs tonight were promising after a very stop start season (mostly stop) from the popular Ecuadorian winger. Just before half time, Andy Carroll came in on David De Gea like a revved up carthorse which when all is said and done, is all he is. I saw this last season at Anfield in the FA Cup match where Carroll terrorised De Gea and caused Liverpool’s first goal in that match by legitimately hassling De Gea. What Carroll did tonight though was outrageous, it looked like Peter McPartlands infamous attack on Ray Wood in the 1957 FA Cup final between United and Aston Villa. Everytime I see Carroll play football, I piss myself laughing that Liverpool paid £35,000,000 for him. That’s £11,000,000 more than United paid Arsenal for Robin Van Persie and only £3,000,000 less than City paid for Sergio Aguero. If I find it incredible that Kenny Dalglish thought he was worth that much, Mike Ashley at Newcastle must still be pinching himself in disbelief that he got that amount of money for a modern day Vinnie Jones. One great thing to come out of both tonight and last Sunday is seeing the increasing confidence and assertion of David De Gea. A year or so ago, coming up against somebody like Andy Carroll visibly rattled him, now he’s got that big lumps measure and is no longer intimidated by him.

Ten minutes into the second half, Mohamed Diame scored a belter from eighteen yards past an unsighted David De Gea. Former Bolton goalkeeper and perenial Sam Allardyce favourite ,Jussi Jääskeläinen, suddenly looked like he was going to have the kind of game that Brad Friedel is famous for having against United. He produced two great saves from Robin Van Persie and when Wayne Rooney finally did beat him from a Robin Van Persie corner, Gary O’Neill cleared Rooney’s fumbled shot off the line. It was begining to look like one of them nights. On 75 minutes, at exactly the same point in the second half as the first, Shinji Kagawa intervened agin with a stroke of magic to help rescue the match. Kagawa hit both posts before Robin Van Persie ran up to score for the second match in succession, in an unguarded net from what I later found out to be from an offside position. If you would’ve offered reds four points from these last two games after the derby nine days ago, most of us would’ve been delighted with it. As it stands, United now need six points to be sure of winning the title and that’s based on the assumption that City win every game between now and the season end. City won 1-0 tonight with a late goal from ex West Ham centre forward Carlos Tevez in what was a dress rehearsal for next months crassly timed FA Cup final. On Sunday, City are away at White Hart Lane playing a good Tottenham Hotspur side who are in serious contention for a European Cup spot. If City lose there then United have to beat Villa the following night at Old Trafford to seal the 20th league title.

A bloke who I swear could be Al Murray’s bastard brother was giving it the big one during the match. Inviting United fans to meet him outside the chicken run at half time, as if anybody’s gonna be daft enough to walk out at half time. He done one five minutes before the end of the game without even a whimper. A classic example now of what was once a genuinely moody place to visit. West Ham as an away trip has changed dramatically over the years, it’s now full of wannabe’s trying to live up to an exaggerated folklore. Walking down Green Street pre match, there were a plethora of local early 20 somethings walking around trying to look like a firm whilst the police were everywhere nearby. I can remember a time when West Ham’s boys would be mooching about well offside away from owe biww but these kids tonight were just poseurs. They would’ve been better off having an early night, going to bed and inducing a sleep the way young lads traditionally do for all the aura of menace they possessed. Tonight, was like being in a ground full of people that I am convinced cannot see the irony of ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ or the rantings of Alf Garnett. Is there really Life on Mars?

Thanks to Lee Thomas for his help in writing this blog


4 thoughts on “Life On Mars – East London 17th of April 2013”

  1. In a match that United were showing signs of tiredness, a draw was a fair if not satisfactory result. Teams play harder against the better clubs. No better example here. It’s as if they think they are auditioning for the visiting manager. Which they subconsciously are. So it struck me that Bone ‘ed Carroll must have thought that the casting crew for a Arnold Schwartsadoodah film were in the crowd. To compare him with v jones is slightly amiss. I would liken him to a previous liverpool acquisition, Tony Hateley. He was that thick, when once asked by the legendary Bill Shankly to take a pen in training, he insisted on trying to head it. Shanklys words not mine. But spot on. That imbecile should playing the lower divisions. I would also like to express my sorrow at the premature demise of Ann Williams. She worked tirelessly to right a wrong. To every right thinking persons advantage. Not just football supporters. Condolences to her family and friends. RIP.

    1. Funny you should say that about reporting me to RSPCA for comparing a Geordie to a carthorse, did you see that Geordie clobbering a horse outside the Mike Ashley arena (or whatever it’s called this week) after their defeat to Sunderland last Sunday? The horse bore a striking resemblance to former United centre forward Ruud Van Nistellroy and is now being looked at by Alan Pardew as a potential replacement to Demba Ba, anything to avoid bringing the finely coiffured Carroll back.

  2. I agree Carrol was way overpriced, although he does work hard. His clearace from Hernandez was excellent, especially as he is a forward.
    However, he should not have been on the pitch. I do not think for one minute he was trying to injure De Gea, I have him down as an honest pro, but if that is not dangerous play, what is? Flying through the air at that speed cannot be classed as anything other than dangerous. He should have been off.
    That said, it was a tough game. De Gea coped well, defenders were unlucky a few times at not getting fouls but they got on with it. Valencia improved, Kagawa looked good (although not a winger) and Van Persie is scoring again.
    Get Rooney in midfield to kill two birds (the midfield ‘problem’ and his up-front form) and all is Red rosey 🙂

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