Archive for January, 2009

Match Report: WBA 0-5 Manchester United

Posted on January 28, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, WBA   1 Comment »

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A stunning display from the injury hit champions rocked West Bromwich Albion and kept United at the top of the Premier League.

Goals from Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez, Nemanja Vidic (though this later seemed to be an own goal), then two from Cristiano Ronaldo sent out a clear message of superiority.

Albion had stated their intent to at least show adventure in the game but an end to end start was punished when Berbatov picked up a Giggs pass and exchanged the ball with the excellent Michael Carrick to slot home and complete a great move.

The home side suffered just before half time as skipper Paul Robinson was dismissed for a dangerous lunge on Ji-Sung Park. The red card may have been harsh but it was reckless claim by the Baggies’ captain and he could have no real complaints. Moments later, the Red Devils compounded the home supporters misery when Scott Carson bizarrely dropped a Ryan Giggs freekick, perhaps looking for a free kick when challenged by his own defender, and the impressive Carlos Tevez tapped in.

In the second half United really rammed home the advantage and scored when the outstanding Giggs’ set piece was met by Vidic, though replays suggested a home defender may have had the crucial touch in scoring the third United goal.

Better was to follow from United and the mercurial Giggs as the Welshman found space and exquisitely pulled back for Ronaldo to end a personal hell and score a league goal. The scoring was completed a few minutes later when Berbatov played Ronaldo through to finish between Carson‘s legs.

As the match entered its final minutes United claimed another milestone – a Premier League record without conceding a league goal – and with the re-inforcement of the returning Wes Brown and Rio Ferdinand, the record stands a good chance of extending itself even considering the visit of in form Everton on Saturday.

Source:(Yolkie)

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Are our injuries a concern for the trip to Internazionale?

Posted on January 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Man United   3 Comments »

After our 3-0 victory over Chelsea when we lost Patrice Evra to injury for three weeks it did dawn on me that we could have a massive injury crisis by the time we head to Italy to defend our crown against Mourinho’s Inter Milan.

However, I opted against blogging at that point due to the fact that we had Rafael, Evans and we were awaiting the debut of Fabio as cover.  As we now know, all three players have picked up injuries that will mean that will be out for a considerable amount of time.  Although Evans should be back by next weekend – we know that he has been carrying this ankle injury for some time, could this flare up again?

Rio Ferdinand was last seen in the Premier League against Spurs at White Hart Lane, almost two months ago now and we need him back playing as soon as possible so that he can regain match fitness by the time United head to Italy on the 24th.  Yes, we do have a good month till that day – however the injuries to Ferdinand and Evans are a concern considering Nemanja Vidic is out of the game through suspension.

For the trip to WBA, United are without Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Brown, Fabio, Anderson, Rooney, Welbeck with the news that Cristiano Ronaldo was also a doubt for the game against Spurs.  Every club experiences injuries at different parts of the season.  We have a large squad that are more than capable of getting through this period – although the Champions League is a different story when it comes to the quality that is needed.  Neville, Giggs and Scholes are proving to be even more invaluable that they were in their heyday – with some good performances in recent weeks, but how long can the old guard cover for?

Inter Milan are a world class side with a top manager.  They’ve had their fair share of criticism this season – mostly reserved for Mourinho himself – but we know that if we get through this stage, it is a massive step to reclaiming the European Cup.  Inter’s record in this Champions League season isn’t anything to shout home over.  Losing to Bremen and Group winners  Panathinaikos, Mourinho wasn’t content with that and the two times European Cup winners then went onto, luckily might I add, draw with Champions League new boys Anorthosis Famagusta.  Their form in Serie A has been better, although recently lost 3-1 to Atalanta and are now in second place behind Juventus, with a game in hand.

I’ve blogged before about the poor record the European Cup winners have had since winning the tournament (with every side since AC Milan in 2003, going out in the last 16) and we will need to be at our best to overcome the Serie A Champions.  I hope that we don’t go into the game as we did in May 2007 against their city rivals AC Milan.  United, leading 3-2 from the first leg, only needed a draw to setup a historical meeting with Liverpool in Athens – as we know we got hammered 3-0 with a makeshift defense consisting of O’shea, Brown, Vidic and scouse lover Heinze.  United looked tired, considering we were chasing three trophies before the game, whereas Milan were out of everything else – and if memory serves me right, rested every player against Udinese the week before.  I hope that Ferdinand, Evans and Evra can recover time to get match fit and put in a better performance than the previous one in Milan nearly two years ago now.

You may feel i’m overreacting or being too pessimistic regarding a game that is a month away.  However, I know that Inter have a lot of quality in the form of Maicon, Cambiasso and the extremely talented Ibrahimovic  and we will need all of our squad ready for what hopes to be a classic battle.  With all players fit and ready to go – I have no doubt that United can overcome Inter Milan but if Ferdinand isn’t available for the first leg – I will be concerned.

Questions to be asked:

Will Rio Ferdinand recover in time for Inter Milan game?

Will Evra, Evans and Rafael be match fit for the game?

How bad is the injury crisis at United?

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Match Report: Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Posted on January 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in FA Cup, Man United, Match Reports, Spurs   1 Comment »

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A low key FA Cup 4th Round tie saw Manchester United deservedly progress thanks to a lovely Dimitar Berbatov goal against his old club, but Sir Alex Ferguson will be counting the cost as his patched up side suffered even more injuries.

Tottenham started stung by their poor midweek performance and United’s naive defending allowed Pavlyuchenko all the room he needed to head in easily past Ben Foster.

It took a while but United did spring into life before the break, with Tevez hitting the bar and Ronaldo going close, before 2 goals in just a couple of minute turned the tie on its head. First, Michael Carrick’s pulled back corner was struck by Scholes and then deflected by Huddlestone past Spurs keeper Ben Alnwick, and then Carrick’s stunning lofted pass was brilliantly controlled by Berbatov and steered in from 20 yards.

The real highlight of the game had been the enterprising and confident play from debutant Fabio, but unfortunately he was the first injury casualty. His replacement, another debutant, Richard Eckersley, was composed at full back. Worse was to follow as Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to be injured as he came off, and then stand in winger Danny Welbeck had to be assisted from the pitch before the end.

United made efforts to add to their lead in the second half with the bright Tevez at the centre of most things, while Michael Carrick was brilliant, and Zoran Tosic made an impressive substitute debut outing replacing Ronaldo.

But though Sir Alex will be pleased to get through to the 5th round he will have concerns over Ronaldo with a massive league game at the Hawthornes coming up on Tuesday.

Source:(Yolkie)

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Match Report: Manchester United 4-2 Derby County

Posted on January 21, 2009  by Stretford-end  in League Cup, Man United   No Comments »

Sir Alex Ferguson reached his fifth League Cup Final with Manchester United after his side overcame a first leg deficit to go through to Wembley 4-3 on aggregate.

A cracker from Nani from over 25 yards out gave United the lead and John O’Shea doubled the advantage from a Welbeck pass. Carlos Tevez headed in a magnificent cross from the impressive Rafael before half time.

Substitute and ex-United trainee Giles Barnes converted a penalty and a super free kick to pull Derby back in it either side of a spot kick from another sub, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Rams gave 100% effort but were outclassed in a dominating first half performance by the European Champions, and were never likely to stay in the tie after Tevez’s goal.

Injuries to Rafael, seemingly Gary Neville, as well as Jonny Evans and Anderson too may yet prove to be costly to Sir Alex, though he will be delighted to progress to the final, hoping to win it for the third time as United manager.

Source:(Yolkie)

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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Manchester United

Posted on January 18, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Bolton Wanderers, Man United, Match Reports   1 Comment »

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Manchester United record signing Dimitar Berbatov scored a crucial, dramatic goal to clinch a vital win at the Reebok Stadium to take the champions to the top of the league for the first time this season.

It looked as if Bolton would snatch a point after a plucky first half display was matched with a resolute second performance but the Bulgarian’s header in the 89th minute was enough to take all three points.

A confident start for the visitors in possession was answered by an attacking spell by the home team, but United turned up the pressure before half time, almost scoring through a free kick from Ronaldo and a stinging drive from Anderson, before Ronaldo saw his close range header saved by Jaaskaleinen.

United began to open up Bolton in the second half, with Carrick‘s long balls to Ronaldo the most penetrative that the Champions had offered – after a quiet opening, Ronaldo really began to burst into life and on three occasions his crosses into space were wasted by his teammates.

Changes were made as Scholes and Giggs came on, but Bolton responded with defensive substitutions. It appeared as though there would be no goals, but Giggs wriggled through and played a ball to Tevez. Tevez found space on the right and crossed for Berbatov, who headed in to the centre of the goal.

The result was the trademark of United’s title winning campaigns of the past and also marked a Premier League record for consecutive clean sheets.

Source:(Yolkie)

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Match Report: Manchester United 1-0 Wigan Athletic

Posted on January 14, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Wigan Athletic   No Comments »

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Despite being on the field for only 9 minutes, Wayne Rooney made the major impact in the first half – and, indeed, the entire game – by scoring after just 54 seconds, tapping in Cristiano Ronaldo’s pullback.

Anyone expecting a landslide win after this clearly hadn’t counted on Wigan’s recent form, or their resolute response.

Rooney pulled up shortly after with a hamstring injury and hobbled off to be replaced by Carlos Tevez. And it was Tevez who had the standout moment, beside the goal of course, when he raced onto a long clearance by O’Shea, rounded the keeper but his touch was too heavy – making the angle difficult for himself, Tevez could not convert.

After the break there were a couple of moments of contention but nothing that ever really threatened to alter the scoreline – Wigan were totally full of endeavor but never created a clear cut opportunity – and aside from another clear penalty shout after a Ronaldo shot was handled just inside the box, the goal was the only part of the game that put the teams apart.

That Nemanja Vidic was the games standout player was testament to Wigan’s determination, and though Manchester United shaded the game – just -, Sir Alex Ferguson will be relieved to get this fixture out of the way.

Source:(Yolkie)

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Do Poll’s comments re: Rafa actually indicate United are treated unfairly by refs?

Posted on January 12, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Liverpool, Man United   No Comments »

Graham Poll had his say on Mad Rafa’s rant over the weekend -


“Rafa Benitez has articulated what referees have been thinking for years – that Sir Alex Ferguson can say what he wants about them and the FA will allow him to get away with it,” he told the Daily Mail.

“The authorities could point to Ferguson’s two-match ban imposed earlier this season as proof that he is not out of reach of their disciplinary department, but that was for marching onto the field after the 4-3 win over Hull and for comments made directly to the referee, Mike Dean, who in reporting the misconduct forced the FA’s hand”. 


If there is an underlying feeling of resentment against Ferguson and subsequently the club, does this not indicate that far from receiving preferential treatment, United are likely to start games with a handicap?

Having seen the cuts and physical scars Ronaldo suffered earlier this season and the way we get about 25% of the penalty decisions that we actually deserve, do we take Poll’s comments seriously, is there in fact a trend among officials to hinder United?

The comments were made by Poll in justification of Rafael Benitez’s rant, though surely they have the complete opposite effect by clearly implying that certain officials “have it in” for Fergie and United.

In my humble opinion Poll should be made to name and shame the individuals who have a grudge against Ferguson so those officials should not be considered for top flight games for the good of the integrity of the sport.

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Match Report: Manchester United 3-0 Chelsea

Posted on January 11, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Chelsea, Man United, Match Reports   7 Comments »

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A dominating Manchester United performance saw the English and European Champions crush Chelsea 3-0 with goals from Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov.

After an abject display against Derby in the Carling Cup and a less than convincing league performance in recent weeks, the pressure was really on Sir Alex Ferguson to send his team out to perform – especially in the wake of Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez’s incredibly nonsensical outburst on Friday.

Fergie’s team selection was met with some sceptiscm due to the decision to start with Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher in the centre of midfield – however, the selection of the 35 year old mercurial Welshman was a masterstroke as the United legend was by far the best player on the pitch.

Chelsea have an incredible away record this season but offered little threat in a dull opening period that beat into life late in the first half – the Red Devils mustered some urgency and a clever quick corner from Rooney that was crossed by Giggs and scored by Ronaldo was disallowed by the officials. No danger, however, as the re-taken kick was duly flicked by Berbatov and headed in by Vidic in injury time.

The goal was due reward as Ronaldo had previously been manhandled in the box by Carvalho but was denied a penalty. The decision may have been as a result of Benitez’s refereeing rant on Friday but was nonetheless incredible.

The lead was no more than United deserved and it prompted Chelsea to bring on Anelka at half time – but the Blues performance was even worse in the second half, and when Evra’s cross was finished by Rooney, the result was no longer in doubt.

Late on, Ronaldo’s wide free kick was met by Berbatov to inflict a 3-0 deficit on Chelsea, though it was no more than the champions deserved.

Sir Alex responded to Benitez’s rant as “ridiculous” in his post match interview but he will be far more content with his sides impressive statement than the state he worked the Liverpool coach up into.

Source:(Yolkie)

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Rafael “Keegan” Benitez goes on meltdown – the Stretford-End “Dossier”.

Posted on January 09, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Liverpool, Man United   7 Comments »

Of course I’m sure you’ve all had a chance to witness “Rafa’s” rant at Fergie. If not, go here – http://www.skysports.com/video/clips/0,23791,12606_4770525,00.html

Of course, again, perhaps you don’t need me to pick apart and dissect Benitez’s crackpot claims. But I’m pedantic like that.

I wasn’t quite clear whether it was intended as a joke or he seriously meant it but as I watch it again I believe the old coot is actually serious.

First of all, being asked a question and then pulling out a sheet of paper (then claiming he doesn’t want to start “mind games” – a repeated comment)!!

The whole fixtures comment – on the one hand it seems like he’s slating Fergie for having the gaul to question how it can be possible for United to draw the top 10 sides from last season all away, all before Christmas and after each European tie. But then he goes on to say they had early kick offs 2 years ago. And they didn’t say anything.

Erm, what’s this then Rafa? It looks suspiciously like you’re saying something. About something that happened 2 years ago. AND this season – “at Christmas.. we were at Newcastle two days after playing Bolton. They were not complaining then”.

Why would he be? Your club, your problems!

“Only Mr Ferguson can talk about referees and not be punished”. But Rafa you said he was banned and fined £10 k??

“We started the respect campaign with the sending off of Mascherano at Old Trafford”.

He wants some kudos for his player being uncontrollable? Oh no, wait, he’s blaming Bennett. For the red card and for not awarding Wigan a penalty against us last season. He’s talking facts, but doesn’t mention the fact Bennett didn’t award a penalty for the clear foul on Scholes in the same game.

“To complain and to always have an advantage is not fair”

I thought this was supposed to be a factual enlightenment? Not some exhibition of Rafa’s successful transformation into bitter bin dipper.

“And I was very clear, forget the campaign because Mr Ferguson was killing the referees, killing Mr Atkinson, killing Mr Hackett. But he is not punished.”

Apart from the £10k fine and 2 game ban then? But you mentioned that didn’t you, Rafa? I’m confused!

Of course all of this is laughable – all the more ironic when you consider one of his players who is currently on charge of ABH is allowed to play football when Eric Cantona wasn’t after Selhurst Park (quite rightly, but I’m showing the FA double standards), when you consider that one of his players wrote in an autobiography that he deliberately injured a team mate and also sent two friends to physically assaulting a player who had injured him and escaped unpunished while Roy Keane was given an ADDITIONAL 5 match ban and £150k fine for a deliberate foul he’d already been suspended for due to admitting it was deliberate in his autobiography.

And considering the supporters of his own club who mugged each other for Champions League Final tickets then bombarded the barriers so those with legit tickets couldn’t get in (narrowly escaping another Heysel) escaped unpunished, but ours get attacked by the Italian police and Roma’s Ultras and we get fined.. (Yes I accept our own supporters were not angels in this instance. This really just illustrates the point).

I recently wrote about this in our forum. If any club is the beneficiary of collective myopia – or “diplomatic immunity”, if you will – by the sports governing bodies, it’s that classless bunch from up the M62.

Still, nice to see that there’s life in the auld dog yet.

Well played Sir Alex, well played.

Source:(Yolkie)

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The problem with Anderson

Posted on January 09, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United   19 Comments »

In June 2007 we launched a huge surprise by signing the highly rated Porto midfielder Anderson.

Expectations were high due to the potentially high transfer fee (though should the transfer fee reach its potential, the expectation will become somewhat of a self fulfilling prophecy), and after a false start Anderson really kicked in against Wigan in October of his virgin year and cemented his first team space.

Highlights of his first year saw him thoroughly outclass Cesc Fabregas and Steven Gerrard on every outing against them and (obviously) winning the double. Towards the back end of the season Ando saw less and less first team action amid rumours that Sir Alex was growing annoyed with his party lifestyle.

Where before he was the number one choice to tackle illustrious midfield opponents, Fergie opted to not even give Anderson a minute of the European semi finals against Barcelona, a squad place for the title clincher at Wigan and he had to make do with a cameo in the Champions League final (even though he made a significant impact, scoring a vital sudden death penalty).

However Anderson had recovered from a broken leg just before he joined United and most fans gave him the benefit of the doubt.

There was a nice story regarding Anderson’s Olympic jaunt with Brazil – during a training session he was sung to by some United fans who were present (the Agadoo song) and he went over and asked them to sing the song to him because he didn’t know the words. Clearly the actions of a player who was feeling the love, the adulation of a club who had instantly warmed to him.

His return from the Olympics saw him thrust into the lineup hours after getting off the plane – dodgy barnet and all didn’t stop a man of the match, typically bombarding performance at Fratton Park in August.

Since then, though, there seems to have been very little to shout about – it’s not that Anderson has been awful, but he has certainly been erratic with form, and while I’m not singling out one player for the Derby disaster, it was Anderson’s worst game for the club since he established himself.

The effort is there, and the quality obviously is. To me it boils down to one of two things.

Is he trying too hard? A couple of times on Wednesday I saw him try over elaborate short passes and while this exuberance is typical of his game and it shouldn’t be taken away, I do have a concern.

Secondly, is he suffering from somewhat of a confidence crisis? You wouldn’t think it to look at him playing, and in all fairness, he has played a starring role in some of United’s better performances this season – including the major role in probably the goal of the season so far, where he played 4 one twos on the way to laying on a goal for Carlos Tevez against Blackburn in the Carling Cup.

Ah, there. Part of the Carling Cup squad, marginilised from the first team this season. Maybe that’s it?

I don’t think it’s a terminal decline, possibly a little case of the second season blues, but your mind starts to worry when you see stories linking him with Inter Milan.

Perhaps he’s the major casualty of Fletcher’s impressive start to the season and he’s struggling to find form?

One thing I hope we don’t do is lose faith with him. Part of a young group of players that include Ronaldo, Rooney, Rafael, Fabio, Nani and Possebon, I still believe that Anderson has the potential to be one of, if not the, best player in the world. More importantly, I want to see that in a United shirt.

What do you think?

Source:(Yolkie)

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