Archive for October, 2008

Manchester United 2-0 West Ham United

Posted on October 30, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, West Ham   No Comments »
Manchester United 2-0 West Ham United

Manchester United 2-0 West Ham United

Champions Manchester United cantered to a 2-0 win over West Ham thanks to a first half Cristiano Ronaldo double.

The set of events, which seemed eerily similar to last season, saw United race into an early 2-0 lead with the Portguese wizard scoring both, then taking their foot off the gas. Brazilian Anderson was at the heart of both of moves – first, playing to Nani whose cross was sidefooted in by Ronaldo, then, passing to Berbatov, who performed an exquisite piece of skill (the kind of which he was bought for) to beat the defender on the byline before playing in for Ronaldo to tap in.

More could and arguably should have been added to the scoreline – impressive performances were there to be seen all over the pitch, from the ever improving Rafael, to the restored confidence of Ferdinand, through to the growing and understated composure of Fletcher, the commandeering midfield run of Anderson and the improving in Nani. In the number 17, in particular, a massive change seems to have taken place in recent times and performances, and his display against the Hammers was one of his best in a Red Devils shirt.

Berbatov combined with Tevez in the second half, with the Argentinian following in the Bulgarian’s footsteps by outrageously flicking the ball round his marker, but a horde of defenders muscled him out when he closed in on goal.

Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney were brought on with 20 minutes to go and Rooney was typically all action but perhaps not so typically all for goal (though perhaps understandably, given he was chasing his 100th career goal) – firing in 3 shots from distance within 6 minutes of introduction, though his as ever superb work rate compensated for what some would call his greed.

Ratings : Kuszczak 6, Rafael 7, Ferdinand 7, Vidic 7, Evra 7, Ronaldo 8, Fletcher 8, Anderson 8, *Nani 8, Tevez 7, Berbatov 7.

Source:(Yolkie)

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Match Report: Everton 1-1 Manchester United

Posted on October 25, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Everton, Man United, Match Reports   No Comments »
Match Report: Everton 1-1 Manchester United

Ok, so we’re going to place all the match reports in the blog now so that you can have your say on the latest game in our comments section. Don’t worry you can still vote for your MOTM against Everton on our match report included within the Stretford-end.com template.

Don’t forget you can check out Darren Fletcher’s goal in the forum and also the lineup against Everton today on Stretford-end.com.

Everton 1-1 Manchester United

Manchester United threw away a golden opportunity of 3 points at Goodison Park as a spirited Everton second half saw them snatch a point.

In a dominating first half, the visitors took the lead through Darren Fletcher, whose marvellous composure afforded him the time to finish a stunning Ryan Giggs pass. It was Fletcher and Giggs who were at the heart of a thrilling first half display as United looked to put the game beyond their hosts before half time. Returning ex-Evertonian Wayne Rooney was in search of his 100th career goal and was denied it by a fine tackle by Jagielka.

Despite plenty of dominance in all the right areas , and despite a simply phenomenal performance from Reds legend Ryan Giggs in the centre, United didn’t create a great number of clear cut chances, and their inability to score the second proved costly. Everton started the second half very fiery after probably receiving a verbal lashing from David Moyes. Their plan was to unsettle United and it worked, though a couple of the home side were lucky to stay on the pitch after some dangerous tackles – notably, ex-Red Devil and current Toffees captain Phil Neville, who made a reckless tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo. Alan Wiley’s lenience was to Toffee’s benefit as with their full complement they chased down every United player, never allowing them any time.

Eventually their persistence paid off as the previously uncrackable central defence started to creak, the complacency Rio Ferdinand was renowned for 5 years ago began to creep back in, and Everton scored as record signing Felliani headed in a move started by a throw by, you guessed it, Phil Neville.

Soon after United had Van der Sar to thank after another Rio lapse saw Yakubu free, and see his shot tipped onto the post.

More tasty tackles flew around, Rooney’s harsh booking led to more boos which prompted him to kiss his badge and wave to the crowd – cementing his allegiance to the United cause in such a manner that Ronaldo should have been taking notes from – but the action was probably the reason he was brought off by Sir Alex Ferguson, wary of referee Wiley’s trigger booking system for United players after a first half where Everton supporters frustration of being outclassed manifested itself in bizarre abuse of the referee.

In fairness, the champions never looked liked scoring – aside from two glaring Ronaldo misses (one following a sumptuous Anderson through ball), as notable for their relative easiness as the lack of concern shown by the Portuguese superstar upon missing them. His dying seconds free kick (from 35 yards) was typical of his lackluster display, as United were made to pay for a combination of their complacency and profligacy.

Ratings : Van der Sar 7, Brown 6, Ferdinand 5, Vidic 7, Evra 6, Ronaldo 6, Fletcher 8 (Tevez 6), *Giggs 9, Park 6 (Anderson 7), Rooney 6 (Nani 5), Berbatov 7.

Source:(Yolkie)

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Why Ronaldo must win the Ballon D’or…

Posted on October 11, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Man United   5 Comments »
Why Ronaldo must win the Ballon D'or...

Study the following two quotes closely:

At home I am a nice guy: but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.

I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.

Both quotes were actually said by legendary boxer Muhammad Ali – however i’m sure you could relate both to Cristiano Ronaldo, the best player of 2008. To be a European Champion and to play a pivotal part in your club’s fortunes requires a tremendous amount of self belief, desire and arrogance – something that Cristiano Ronaldo has in abundance. However I believe Ronaldo is the type of character that also wants to be praised for his immense talent and what better way of doing so than winning the greatest individual award a player can get – the Ballon D’or.

‘Fucking hell Ricky the Vengaboys are so 2001.’

That time of the year has come around again when 96 football writers from around the globe – used to just be Europe – will vote for their top three footballers of 2008 that took the European game by storm. Surely there can only be one winner you think? Based upon the way in which Kaka won the award in 2007 – Milan scraping a 4th place finish whilst resting a number a number of players to win the Champions League – Ronaldo is in the lead position and cruising.
Kaka scored three times against United in the two semi-finals and along with Clarence Seedorf was best player on the park. Ronaldo was a lost figure that had little influence on both ties and it was down to Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes to influence proceedings and get a 3-2 win at Old Trafford. The 3-0 defeat in Italy was devastating due to the manner in which we lost and again Ronaldo didn’t get a kick. Were these the two games that gave the award to the Brazilian – who had been sublime in the Champions League that season.

Fast forward twelve months and Ronaldo got even better; scored 42 goals and added the Champions League to his CV combined with retaining the Premier League trophy. How on earth can anyone else win the award? Messi’s name has been thrown forward – who is an amazing player, as he demonstrated at Old Trafford, but can his 2007/08 season be compared to Ronaldo’s?

Messi played 33 games last season scoring 16 goals winning as much as Kaka won last season – nothing. Thats a 0.48 scoring ratio – not bad for a player who suffered from injuries and is, although given license to roam, generally occupies a wide right starting berth in a 4-3-3 Cruyff inspired formation. Now compare his goal scoring exploits to Cristiano Ronaldo, who again occupies a wide position. Ronaldo’s goal scoring ratio for 2007/08 is 0.87 for all 48 appearances. Thats phenomenal. To do that against side’s like Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Roma, Lyon – the list can go on. Imagine that was Romario in the early 90′s with Barcelona or Andriy Shevchenko with Milan at the turn of the century? If they had of led of led their club to an historical double scoring 42 goals in the process – wouldn’t they surely have been rewarded with the Ballon D’or? Hands down they would.

Pavel Nedved: Great footballer, shit hair.

So to past Ballon D’or winners. The first winner of the award was Stanley Matthews way back in 1956 followed by Alfredo Di Stefano in 1957, with England and Wolves skipper Billy Wright coming in second. As the years went by a number of English clubs had players that won the award with our very own Denis Law picking the award up in 1964, Bobby Charlton in 1966 and Georgie Best in 1968.

Between George Best’s win in 1968 and a quite surprise award of Michael Owen in 2001 – no other English based player won the award. Keegan did with Hamburg in the late 70′s and we had some notable 2nd and 3rd spots (Best in 71 came third, Eric in 93 came third and Beckham in 99 came second). Do the players playing for English clubs get overlooked due to the fact that we tend to play football at a much faster pace compared to the rest of the cultured world?

‘Jamie Redknapp was appalled to find that someone else in football pulled off the skinny tie look’

So to Ronaldo – for one lets not beat around the bush, the guy was an absolute tosser over the summer. Like an innocent looking choir boy when everyone is looking at him but pulling his sister’s hair out when the backs are turned – yes Cristiano Ronaldo needed to be a little more humble and appreciate what he had achieved in the five years since that amazing debut against Bolton.

However, there can be no overlooking what he has achieved in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He has grown into a wonderful footballer that is comfortable on his left and his right – not just for shooting but in terms of dribbling ability. He is tall and strong and good in the air – and is a superb set piece taker. Other than tackling, what does the boy not have?

With regards to the initial quotes I do believe Ronaldo needs to have his ego fed. We all do to some degree, but in order to be that good and the style of play that he encompasses – you need to have that self belief and know that you are good – something that we here in England would label a ‘flash tosser’ – or something to that extent. However – these are players that we look at with envy and maybe wish that we could be a little more like that.

I’m not talking about in terms of conduct off the pitch as arrogant players such as Maradona, Romario and Cruyff could come across in a bad light due to the fact that they believed that the sun shined out of their arse. To an extent, who can blame them? In their respected era’s they were the best players around.

Maradona came across as being ‘one of them’ or even ‘a son of Naples’, comparing the streets to that of his home Buenos Aires when he was growing up. However, what was unknown to the people was that their ‘son’ was regularly participating in cocaine fulled orgies and sometimes missed the setup for the match preparation – but hey when you’re that good, who can stop you?

‘After a particular heavy night, Maradona swore he should have been somewhere else.’

Zidane, Figo ,Ronaldo, Weah, Sammer, Baggio and Van Basten are all players that I remember growing up and admiring what fine footballers they are – and in Ronaldo I am no different. You may argue that football isn’t about individual awards, and to be fair I agree.

I couldn’t care less if Ronaldo, Rooney or Scholes won a personal award as long as they are doing the business on the pitch for United. Of course with good performances for the team you get recognition – which in turn you’re pleased to see the players win due to the performances they put in week in week out.

Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t mind where he plays football – as long as he is appreciated and told how great he is. Ronaldo is a superb footballer who now understands the importance of playing to the team’s strengths which ironically turned out to suit him. Yes, he was lured by the riches and history that Madrid can offer but was it the fact that if he played for a ‘fashionable European superpower’ he would gain even more praise for his footballing ability?

There is no doubt where the power lies in modern day European football with England dominating the semi finals in the past two seasons. Ronaldo would have been a fool to leave the European and domestic Champions because I have no doubt he will win the award and maybe just then he’ll appreciate what he has done and more importantly what United has done for him in the past half decade.

‘Ronnie, there’s nothing to worry about, he just asks you to cough. ‘
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Arsenal leave Highbury, Liverpool to leave Anfield, Chelsea talking about new ground – United to leave Old Trafford?

Posted on October 07, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Man United   2 Comments »
Arsenal leave Highbury, Liverpool to leave Anfield, Chelsea talking about new ground - United to leave Old Trafford?

In the wilderness that is the international break there is sometimes little news or pointless transfer news that doesn’t deserve the coverage it gets – so I thought I’d see what fans opinions are on the ground that they call home. Nothing is greater for a side than having a fortress of a home ground. Imagine being an away player traveling to a game you don’t quite fancy and seeing your supporters out sung by the home support – it puts even further doubt in your mind. It’s obvious the strength that a home ground can give a club – but how important would you consider the ground that your football club plays at?

The Nepalese supporters club in all it’s glory.

Arsenal left Highbury in 2006 for a new ground, Liverpool are leaving Anfield for Stanley Park and Chelsea were linked to the idea that they’d be interested in leaving Stamford Bridge – will this ever happen to United? Other fans will argue that United fans are in a good position with regards to keeping the ground whilst making enough money from match day revenue to go into the transfer kitty (quite naively but hopefully!). You get what I mean. United are in the position to keep Old Trafford whilst being able to expand – allowing more supporters to see the games whilst also increasing revenue through ticket sales.

This was taken from the Telegraph from the 2006/07 season:

Last season United took about £3m in match-day revenue from home games at the 76,000-capacity Old Trafford – a staggering £87m for the 29 matches played there.

Although not fully focusing on the above statement, more on the fact that the Glazer bring sweet fuck all to the club, those figures – which highlight the sheer fact as to why clubs are forced into making these decision to leave their ground, a ground with history and memories just for financial gain. Since finding the above quote, I’ve come across an upto date statement from Reuters:

More seats at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium helped the club lift its match day revenue by 30 percent to 92.6 million pounds, the club said.

So were Arsenal forced into that decision to move grounds? Liam Brady seem to think so. Speaking in 2006 the Arsenal legend commented:

We all recognise why the board of directors made the decision. It is necessary if we are to be able to continue to compete at the level we are at the moment.

Brady was obviously sad for leaving the ground that he applied his trade at in the 70′s – but understood the reasons for leaving. However – is this always beneficial? Arsenal fans – although not all – always talk to me about ‘needing to spend big to compete’ and ‘Wenger must buy big into order to compete’. These fans may seem fickle in forgetting how Wenger can bring through youngsters with an entertaining brand of football but how can Arsenal compete with the top teams when constantly monitoring their finances?

In his aging years Wenger forgot where his office was.

So to United’s move from Old Trafford, I hope that this will never ever happen and I can’t ever see it happening. Created for a mere £90,000 – Old Trafford was assembled in 1909 and opening to the people of Manchester by 1910. The famous Scottish architect, Archibald Leitch, designed Old Trafford and ironically designed the three other grounds included in this post; Anfield, Highbury and Stamford Bridge.

These grounds have seen a lot of legends and hold a lot of memories. By moving grounds the ‘feel’ of the club can be lost. Gone are the memories of Meredith, Rowley, Byrne, Edwards, Best, Cantona, Keane and Rooney if Old Trafford was not United’s home. This is something that we should be proud of that we will never – hopefully – be in the position that Arsenal and Liverpool are. Is the financial gain more important than that of history, tradition and memories?

I’m not stating that Liverpool or Arsenal fans are happy to leave their grounds but i’m asking is the financial reward more important than those memories and years that will be lost (not talking about your memories as fans but the memories the ground holds) because of the need to earn as much money as your rivals? United in the Champions League final and Premier League run in last season showed that money doesn’t always buy you success – United and Chelsea’s financial situations are a million miles apart in terms of how the wealth was acquired. You may put it down to luck, in terms of United becoming a dominant force when the Sky money came in, but the fact is that United have always had massive support and players played for United because of the club – not the wages.

So to conclude – do you think the sacrificing of the home ground is justified in the evolution of the game of modern day football to compete with the top teams from around England and around Europe? For Arsenal fans that have moved to the Emirates – would you prefer the older, outdated stadium with the memories and history that it commanded or the potential to earn more money to compete with the like of United and Chelsea?

I for one am delighted that United are not in the position of our rivals – is the move to a new home an advantage to your rivals who travel to play you? Is it a necessity due to the influence that Sky has on our national game? Or is it simply another step in the evolution of football – what next – Chelsea moving to Moscow or Citeh to Shanghai? You may snigger but imagine fifty years ago do you think you would have even dreamed of the television coverage – the extension of half time to accommodate adverts – the astronomical wages and transfer fee’s commanded by players and clubs? Not to mention the idea of game 39. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds for our clubs and their homes – but I for one am glad that it looks like Old Trafford will always remain the home of United.

Fergie – part of the Old Trafford furniture
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Boring international week, statistics and stuff!

Posted on October 06, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Announcements   1 Comment »
Boring international week, statistics and stuff!

Hi there,

You may only be familiar with our blog that we have – so this page!  But as the international  week comes closer and the home game against West Bromwich Albion seems ever so far away I ask you this – what type of Manchester United Statsitics are you interested in?

You can check the lineup, appearances, goals and assists in our statistics section.  We will be having bookings data online soon – but are there any statistics you’d like to see?  We do have some historical data – although not nearly enough as I would like.  Would be great to get your thoughts on how we can improve this section and what you’d like to see.

Also – you may be interested to get involved in the latest forum debate (which currently has only my opinion!) on ‘Which player do you think we were close to signing over the years?’ For all the Robson’s, Cantona’s and Keane’s that we did sign – we were always linked to players of the class of Batistuta, Zidane and Ronaldinho to name a few.  Would be great to hear who you thought we were close to signing over the past 20/25 years and why you don’t think they did sign.

Capello thinks to himself:’Do not mention the penalty, do not mention the penalty’
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Player v.s club – where does the power lie nowadays?

Posted on October 06, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Chelsea, Citeh, Liverpool, Man United, Press, Transfer Targets   No Comments »
Player v.s club - where does the power lie nowadays?

Top football magazine, FourFourTwo, have produced a quality article in their November edition that examines the player vs. club issue and where the power lies – you can’t miss the issue as it has Cantona’s face with graying beard on the front cover. We’re always reminded that ‘players wouldn’t get away with that in my day’ or ‘he’d get a clip round the ear and spend some times in the ressies’ when analysing the behaviour of some of today’s players – but does the power really lie with the player or do the clubs have more of say?

‘Well i’m pretty loyal i’ve only played for Bournemouth, Luton, Millwall, Palace, Birmingham Leicester….’

Ronaldo, Barry, Adebayor, Villa, Santi Cazorla, Lampard and Robinho are all featured in the article – which is interesting, considering that, of the players mentioned, only Robinho managed to move clubs on deadline day. Of course Tottenham would add Berbatov and Keane to that list, which would obviously flaw the point i’m trying to make – but out of the players mentioned only the Brazilian decided to jump ship and sign for Citeh on deadline day. Does this now mean that even with the Bosman ruling and the Webster ruling that clubs have the power?

‘Uri Geller would change the face of football forever’

Yes, we live in a football society where it seems for the top footballers, money is no object. Cristiano Ronaldo can easily command a mammoth £120,000 a week salary – which some people find amazing.

One person that wouldn’t find this extortionate (well maybe the sum for his day and age but in terms of ability being rewarded – he’d appreciate this) is former Red Billy Meredith, who in his day was the first footballing superstar. Meredith fought toothpick and nail to scrap the maximum wage that was forced upon footballers in those days – with the authorities labeling him greedy and a rebel. Meredith was in fact neither – just a player who wanted to be rewarded for his superior footballing talent. Why should he not be rewarded for training harder (in his own words) and being blessed with more naturally ability than the players of his time (not his own words)? In a sense I agree. Why should Ronaldo or Rooney be restricted in terms of how much they earn? Yes, they’ll be the argument that money then dictates where a player will end up. As we well know Ronaldo’s ‘childhood dream’ was to play at Real Madrid – so if there was a wage cap – I doubt he would still be at the club.

‘Meredith flies past Bolton’s very own Chucklebrothers’

The article reveals that ‘Ronaldo and Robinho were exactly the same, only Robinho had the bottle to force a move’. Although, according to everyone’s favourite spokesperson – Pele, Robinho was at at the end of his tether to leave Real Madrid after the way the Spanish Champions had used Robinho in open transfer negotiations of our number 7. Let’s not beat around the bush – Robinho would have signed for Union Niederkappel as long as he got out of Madrid. Citeh have a ton of money and as shown by a mediocre side in Chelsea – money can help you in your quest for silverware. I’m not saying that money is the only resource needed to challenge for honours – not at all, but it does help massively towards achiving that goal.

Would Chelsea had of signed Essien for £24Million? Or Drogba for roughly the same amount? No of course not – this leads again to the point that rich clubs hold the cards over the players – they do not always get their own way as the media sometimes make out.

Robinho (aided by Maradona for some reason):’I’m so pleased to sign for Chelsea..NO!..Arsenal…NO!…Milan….NO!..Wait a second..

Manchester United stood strong over Ronaldo in the summer – a testament to the manager – who would not be bullied into submission; like there was any other outcome. This story has been discussed to death – but the importance of the fact that Fergie kept Madrid at bay, highlights that players don’t always get their own way. Ronaldo could have, if he’d have done a Robinho, ruined his reputation entirely – without getting any reward.

Its a bit different over at Arsenal and Chelsea where it looks like there was a share of power over the summer. Both Adebayor and Lampard flirted with the idea of moving away from their clubs and both were rewarded with handsome contracts. In this case are all parties happy? Well, nearly all expect for Barcelona and Inter Milan.

Gareth Barry’s situation aswell showed how much power the clubs have. Liverpool felt that Barry would go to them for a knock down fee due to unsettling the player but O’Neill stood strong and gave the attitude: ‘He can leave – for this price’. Obviously Benitez didn’t fancy forking out the £18Million for the ex-Villa captain and thus left it be.

‘Barry tried to hide his desire to leave for as long as possible’

I’m sure i’m due some criticism in brining up transfer rumours that everyone is sick of from the summer. The important thing though to remember is that although it is the clubs that, well in most cases over the summer, hold the cards – the players are deeply concerned by their reputation which is ultimately created and destroyed by the fans. We help to create heroes and unmask villains dependent on how they leave the club and in what circumstances they conduct themselves afterwards.

Are they welcomed back to the club with open arms, old songs chanting around the ground OR do they endure the barrage of abuse that will ultimately come their way? Ronaldo was very smart in not handing in a transfer request as he knew that his reputation could be destroyed in a matter of days. Robinho on the other hand was always classified as a talented player but was not a first team regular for Real Madrid in his time he spent with club. No doubt talented, the fee paid by Citeh for him was astonishing and faced the fact that every player has their price and that clubs do hold the cards; well nearly all clubs.

‘So Daniel, where do you stand on who holds the power?’
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Nani, Nani…what to do with Nani!?

Posted on October 01, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Man United   15 Comments »
Nani, Nani...what to do with Nani!?

Before I go into what will obviously be a criticism of our young Portuguese winger let me just say that I think he has a lot of talent and ability and can develop into a top player for us – however, in my opinion he hasn’t shown this in the early stages of the season. Now, i’m an optimist and I am a firm believer in getting behind our players – however I do feel that where criticism is due it shouldn’t be hidden behind club allegiance. The lad must release the ball quicker in my opinion. I don’t believe he is greedy – he just needs to obtain greater awareness, which is a difficult skill to develop especially at the biggest club in the world.

Nani a 2007 summer signing

I’ve read forum posts today that are totally unfair on the boy and I don’t understand how fans can become so fickle sometimes. Nani has a great shot, is skillful and can be capable of putting in some superb crosses. This season though we haven’t seen it, so far. I am confident that Nani will turn into a top footballer, although no where near the class of Ronaldo – which some people still like to compare him to. I’ve never understood the comparison to be honest; both from Portugal and both signed from Sporting Lisbon. The playing styles of either player are completely different – I wouldn’t even say Nani is like Ronaldo when he first joined the club either.

What are you talking about? I can strike the campest pose!

So to the main point of the blog, what should Fergie do with Nani? Should he continue to play him in the knowledge that he is a good player and will produce sooner or later OR do you believe the gaffer should give Park a run in the first team at the expense of Nani? Park has been superb in the last few games and deserves a run considering all of his injuries over the past two seasons.

I spoke about awareness and of course Fergie knows best – he will be able to see if Nani needs to improve on this side of his game. Do you think this is his main problem? The groans I heard on Saturday when a simple pass to Paul Scholes on the edge of the area didn’t come – I don’t know why he takes so long to pass the ball. Of course you should know, as a winger, when the best time is to pass and dribble – there may be times when you need to hold on to the ball but Nani seems to hold on that little too long, does anyone else agree or am I being harsh on him?

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