Archive for February, 2009

Reaction, Mourinho and well played Darren Fletcher

Posted on February 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Man United, Players   1 Comment »

Mourinho moaning

They will change more than us. We will play the same way we do in our championship, 4-4-2. We have no fear to admit this. United will not play like they do in the Premiership. They will go more defensive. I don’t think they are coming here to play eye to eye, to try to win the game here

The above quote isn’t the ramblings of a madman, more so Internazionale’s manager Jose Mourinho – who didn’t quite get the old prediction right on the night. United put in an awesome first half performance and for the life of me can’t understand how we didn’t hit the back of the net. The dominance was there for all to see in the way United controlled the game through good slick passing and closing the Inter players down. The only Inter player that put in a good performance in the first half was Cambiasso whilst Mourinho’s ‘World’s best player’ looked like he was glued to the San Siro turf.

Fergie will be disappointed that United couldn’t capitalise on their dominance and will be ruing the missed chances. However, he will be confident that we will be able to see them off at Old Trafford. Vidic will be back for the game and hopefully we’ll have some more cover at the back. Great performances from United, a Champions of Europe performance.

Mourinho tactics

When Mourinho was at Chelsea, everyone was in awe of the man in terms of his tactical nous and the ability to change a game if needed. Unless, I was watching a different game last night, Internazionale only had one thing in their locker – smash it up to Ibrahimovic or Adriano whilst Stankovic would lurk to support. I know Chelsea were direct at times with Drogba – but Chelsea played more football than that surely?

To top it all off – Mourinho switches to a 4-3-3 but with three strikers rather than two wingers and a target man – completely ignoring the fact that United’s wide men were in space all night. There is no doubting is man management skills, however his signings Mancini and Quaresma have failed whilst Muntari was pretty poor last night. Maybe the ‘special one’ is joining the ‘Rafas cracking up club’ perhaps?

Well played Darren Fletcher

To put in a good performance in the San Siro in a massive European Cup tie is something any footballer should be proud of – to do it after hearing your fiancee was held up at knife point whilst scumbags raided your house – is even more amazing.

It was terrible to hear that Fletcher’s fiancee and two children where held up on Monday evening as Darren left for Italy. He must have been feeling so many things at the time and many people would have just got on a plane back home.

Fletcher put in a superb performance last night, he really did. His passing was good, he covered ground, put tackles in and generally hurried Inter’s play. He may not be the most glamorous of players, however he is a vital player in United’s squad and when he plays he shows what a good footballer he actually is.

I used to always get asked ‘What does Ferguson see in that guy?’ and the more blunt ‘Fletcher is shit’ (well thats more of a statement than a question) – however, I always felt the lad had and still has something. It is hard for a young footballer to break into the first team at a massive football club but I think that Fletcher has proved quite a few people wrong and it is no surprise that he had a great games yesterday alongside Michael Carrick in the centre of the park.

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Match Report: Internazionale 0-0 Manchester United

Posted on February 24, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Man United, Match Reports   No Comments »

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Ronaldo runs at Inter

Manchester United returned to European competition at the San Siro and were held to a 0-0 draw by Italian champions Inter Milan – a result that will be lamented more by the visitors following their controlled performance.

The pre-match relief that both O’Shea and Evans had been passed fit was matched with a little wonder regarding the decision to leave Rooney, Tevez and Scholes on the bench and play with Giggs and Berbatov up front.

It was a decision that was soon vindicated as Giggs was instrumental in all things good for United – and in the first half, all WAS good. Ronaldo had more than a handful of chances, including free kicks and two headers from fantastic Giggs crosses, one of which was saved by Julio Cesar, the second of which was narrowly wide.

Berbatov had a header and then wasted a glorious opportunity from an incisive Giggs pass, and Giggs himself was similarly indecisive after finding space following a skinning of defender Rivas.

United had all of the possession and all of the big chances (12 in the first half), with great performances all the way around the pitch. The first half mustered no goals but nobody was in doubt who was the standout side.

Inter were rejuvenated in the second half – they had to be – and had a couple of chances, though nothing clear cut. In all fairness neither did United – the second half was end to end but never dominated like the first, and despite Ronaldo’s last gasp free kick hitting the target, no team ever looked like establishing a first leg advantage after 80 minutes. Giggs did perform a dazzling run towards the end but his shot was easily blocked.

The tie hangs in the balance, as Mourinho has an impressive away record in the Champions League, but if this game is anything to go by, United should have a real chance going into the second leg.


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Nick Miller: United are better than Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal but are still average

Posted on February 23, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United, Press   16 Comments »


Nick Miller of football365 describes United as “the best of an average bunch”…

We could be accused of going a little blog crazy over the last couple of days but what with United’s victory and Liverpool’s draw putting the Champions 7 points ahead of the chasing pack, there was bound to be a media backlash.

And so came the first, from’s Nick Miller (,17033,13320_4956614,00.html) , who far from gives kudos to United, derides their achievement by questioning that they are “the best of a simply average bunch”, and says “seriously – this is a debate”.

Well, so far, we’ve been slighted for the myth that we haven’t scored so often. On 46 goals, we’ve scored more than any other team. As such, our defensive record has been referred to as the main reason we are in such a good position. The goals statistics defy this.

Our totally commanding home show this season, despite the number of teams who have come to Old Trafford with the sole aim of making it difficult for us, has been somewhat offset by what (at least a few games ago) seemed a dodgy away record. A record that could be quickly disspelled when recognising we had played all of last season’s top half sides away by Christmas, and were still well within touching distance.

There are plenty more statistics that could be told, however, ask yourself this question. When Liverpool were top a few weeks ago, were they labelled “the best of a simply average bunch”? When Arsenal were leading the pack after their favourable fixture list up until this point last season, were they labelled “the best of a simply average bunch”? And when Chelsea were sweeping all before them with a powerful defensive unit, were they labelled “the best of a simply average bunch”?

No, they weren’t. Arsenal were hailed as the best football side in the country (and, in some quarters, the best football side the country had ever seen), and Chelsea were feared as the most intimidating side of a generation.

I have often scribed my disgust at the way British journalism has failed to truly recognise the feats of Sir Alex’s sides but to belittle the achievements of a side that has lost just twice in twenty six games but are still seven points ahead of a team with only one defeat in that time (and, incidentally, we’re world champions) as “average” winners by ‘default’ is an incredible slight on a team which could potentially go on to have the most successful season in British football history. Yes, the internet does provide a path for the less knowledgable or embittered folk to cast their opinions, but the greater concern is that Sir Alex’s sides of 2007, 2008 and the squad of today will have their achievements belittled by wannabe journalists who think because they have a pathway to a widely viewed platform, that their opinion holds any kind of credence in a proper discussion. Breaking news, pal, you may befriend a bunch of deluded scousers and gooners but in the long run you will hold no water.

You may be forgiven, as I could, that we would be getting some credit for such a fantastic turnaround in such a short space of time.

But then, I was crowing about waiting for credit for a Premier League and Champions League double last season. Little did I know we were doing it with an average side….


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Ronaldo, Redknapp, priority and sacrifice

Posted on February 22, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Champions League, Liverpool, Man United, Spurs, Transfer Targets   3 Comments »

Ronaldo with European Cup

Ronaldo’s petulance

Those who watched the game on Setanta Sports will have had the misfortune of being subjected to Craig Burley’s personal singling out of Cristiano following his flick out against Blackburn, saying that this was the “3rd or 4th time” he’s done it this season, before later correcting it to “4th or 5th time”, highlighting the incidents at Tottenham and Stoke (so that makes it the 3rd).

I won’t make excuses, Ronaldo probably deserved to go. But where was the same vilification when Diouf did the same shortly after? And, perhaps more significantly, where were the statements of uproar when Ronaldo trudged off pitches in the autumn with stud marks and bruises clearly visible all over his legs?

Indeed, David Dunn was giving Ronaldo more than just a little personal attention when our winger retaliated. Perhaps to those who believe they walk on a moral high ground they will say two wrongs don’t make a right and Ronaldo should go (without making any kind of comment about the treatment he has suffered prior to his lashes out). As Craig Burley said “Ronaldo is supposed to be world player of the year. He should be used to this treatment”.

Really? Should he? Maybe he’s grown tired of the lack of action taken against his numerous attackers so he’s decided to do something about it. Some would call it petulant, just as many violent. But there’s a small pocket of us who would call it retribution.

Seven points clear and a trip to the San Siro

Liverpool’s title challenge lasted longer than most expected – the leaves are normally just falling off the trees rather than wondering when it’s time to come back – okay, maybe a little tongue in cheek there, as there is still a long way to go and despite their latest setback they have shown the resilience to avoid defeat. Generally this has been Rafael Benitez’s trademark and as such he is recognised as a good Cup manager, but there is still time for them to change those draws into wins.

Nevertheless, City’s unexpected result at Anfield gave United some cheer heading into the Champions League 2nd round at the San Siro on Tuesday night. Cheer that’s badly needed given the potential defensive mis-shape – the last time we were so badly afflicted for selection at the back was probably our last trip to Milan almost two years ago, and no-one needs a reminder of how that turned out.

That said, even John O’Shea has a calmer head on his shoulders, and though I suspect Fergie was keen to avoid selecting Rafael in the away leg, in being almost forced to do so he may see the making of the youngster. Against Barcelona’s riches at the Nou Camp only Ferdinand and Evra from our “first choice” four played, so there is cause for some optimism, or at least, little negativity.

From a result perspective, a score draw or even a score in defeat by the odd goal wouldn’t be a disaster.

Harry Redknapp and the fine line of a priority and sacrifice

The last 5 days have showed and the next 8 days will show the difference in mentality between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, but more relevantly, show the shortcomings of Harry Redknapp as a manager of a “top, top” club, and why long term he is probably not the right choice for Spurs.

Prioritising team selection with one eye on the next game is all well and good but one thing that has constantly baffled me over the last 2 years or so (finally enough to provoke me into blogging about it) is the decision of some managers to treat the UEFA Cup with such contempt.

Redknapp all but threw the towel in before what (on paper at least) seemed a very winnable tie against Spartak Moscow and has more or less conceded defeat for the second leg by declaring he is going to give debuts to teenagers. His reasoning for this is that the Cup final is a more important game.

In isolation, he may have a fair point. And with Fergie saying that our team is going to be the same as the one that has qualified for the final, Spurs will arguably go into the game as favourites. But if they do win the game, what then? The whole point is to qualify for Europe, for the same “glory nights” they earned the right to have this season, the same nights which Harry is arguably pissing up the wall.

It’s not just a point against Redknapp, it’s a bizarre epidemic that reaches far and wide. Gary Megson inexplicably left 7 first teamers at home as Bolton travelled to Sporting Lisbon with more than a fighting chance of making the UEFA Cup quarter finals last year. They went out, narrowly, leaving the travelling fans wondering what might have been. A surprise package in Zenit went onto win the trophy and although it turned out that they were actually a very strong side at the time, surely there is a massive “what if?” lingering for some Trotters fans. And with a potential clash with AC Milan as a carrot for sides in this season’s competition, I can’t for the life of me understand why it isn’t being treated with seriousness.

I’m aware the argument in principle is a very fair one, that the priority is Premier League survival.

But should the priority be at the sacrifice at everything else? Teams at the 3rd and 4th round stages of the FA Cup field weak sides with the guise that survival is their priority but when you get 10 or 11 sides doing this and you know three of those sides will get relegated, it seems such a shame to the fans of those sides who get relegated or narrowly avoid it that their manager robbed them of the chance of a little bit of excitement in the Cup competitions.

Of course it’s just my opinion but last season’s FA Cup quarter finals as well as Middlesbrough‘s fantastic UEFA Cup run a few years back should have at least served as a glorious reminder of the feeling of success against the feeling of another season of underachievement.

Personally, I feel that progression in competitions has just as much potential to provide an extra buzz and enthusiasm as it does to provide a hindrance. There’s a fine line between team selection and sacrifice and I just happen to feel sorry for the fans of such clubs, as well as lucky that Sir Alex recognises the difference. That’s why, win or lose in the Carling Cup final, I at least won’t bemoan the team selection.

For every manager you get bemoaning that there are too many games you’ll probably be able to find 20,000 fans who can’t get enough of the games coming thick and fast. Yes, perhaps the footballers cannot play to optimum ability with so many games, yes, that’s why teams have big squads and yes, of course teams with smaller squads will always use that as an excuse. At the end of the day though it’s still only 90 minutes of (occasionally) chasing a ball around a fantastically kept piece of lawn. I’m not Frank Lampard’s biggest fan but think of the stick he gets for his supposedly generously proportioned body, and then take into consideration he almost never misses a game for Chelsea.

What do others think? Am I being too much of a fantasist? Has the game changed so much that fans accept being out of cup competitions at the earliest opportunity in order to supposedly increase chance of league stability?

If you’ve managed to get to the end of the blog, thanks for reading! Let me know what you think on any of the issues.


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Nani was awful, Rovers fans and Internazionale

Posted on February 22, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Blackburn Rovers, Champions League, Man United   20 Comments »

Luis Nani

Following on from the blog I wrote in October 2008 about Nani – I must say that I was very disappointed with his overall contribution yesterday and feel that he really needs to start putting in some decent performances in order to remain a Manchester United player.

Every time the lad picked up the ball there was the inevitable groan of dissatisfaction when he ultimately gave the ball away. Too many times the young Portugugese winger failed to put a much needed foot on the ball in order to take a more assured touch than his constant flicks that were nearly always intercepted.  Of course, he did put in a good ball for Rooney to score the first goal – however, a decent ball in is hardly enough for a young winger trying to break into the first team.

When he signed for United he was labelled ‘the new Ronaldo’ – something i’ve never seen.  Ronaldo, in terms of physcial and technial ability, was streets ahead of Nani at the age of 21.  Sure, Nani has a shot on him and has scored some superb goals for United since he signed in May 2007, but I just can’t see him ever cementing a place on the left or right flank for United.  I would give the boy another season – however if we are still talking about the same problems in a years’ time – I think it will be time to offload him.  Haven’t seen enough of Tosic yet to make an opinion on him, but I do hope we can try and bring in Valencia from Wigan – I think he has progressed greatly over the past year and you never know – we may even go back in for David Silva of Valencia.

Rovers Support

Bit of a moan about the away support yesterday – in the fact that there were hundreds of empty seats available.  Given the fact that the traveling support have to travel 32 Miles from door to door – you would expect a better turnout.  I know we’re in troubled economic times – however I would expect a better turn out considering how close both clubs are to one another.


I really cannot wait for this game now but am quite anxious regarding our defensive situation.  Jonny Evans isn’t looking too good and we’re already without the experienced trio  of Wes Brown, Nemanja Vidic and Gary Neville; could we expect a centre back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and John O’shea?   If we can get through the first leg with a score draw – I will be immensely pleased considering that I think we will definitely get a result at home.

Couple of facts for you that you may not be aware of – Tuesday marks our 200th game in the European Cup/Champions League.  In this period United have won 110 games, drawn 49 and lost 40 times. United’s first game in the competition was a 2-0 victory over Anderlecht in 1956 – Tommy Taylor and Dennis Viollet were on the score sheet.

Another good omen is that, we’ve only played Internazionale once and won the tie.  The two games occured in the treble winning season when a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford and a 1-1 draw in the San Siro send United marching on to the semi-finals of the competition.  A magnificent brace from Yorke, followed be a clearance off the line by Henning Berg and then a Paul Scholes strike were the main talking points of the tie.

Lastly, and not such a great point, no team since 2003 have won the competition and then gone past the last 16.  I blogged on this last August and although I am optimisitic we will be victorious it is something we will need to be aware of.  Is it just coincidence or is there a greater added pressure to the previous winners to progress?  Time will tell but I for sure cannot wait for the tie.

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Match Report: Manchester United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

Posted on February 22, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Blackburn Rovers, Man United, Match Reports   No Comments »

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An eight point gap (now seven as Liverpool drew today) was created at the top of the table as Manchester United fortuitously ground out a 2-1 victory over local rivals Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford.

The away side had to deal with plenty of pressure early on as both Givet and Nelsen made telling contributions to keep the game scoreless from some zipping through balls, but even Nelsen’s best efforts were in vain when dealing with Nani’s slide rule pass. The Rovers skipper got a touch but was unable to do anything when Wayne Rooney pounced to slot home.

Another goal could have followed soon after when Ronaldo and Carrick‘s quick move ended in a shot straight at Robinson from the Portuguese.

Old Trafford was stunned on the half hour, as well after 1,300 goalless opposition minutes, Andre Ooijer robbed the dawdling Nani and passed to Roque Santa Cruz. The Paraguayan forward took advantage of some slow defending from United to round stand in keeper Kuszczak and roll into the unguarded net.

Far from fire United or the crowd up, the Champions almost whimpered into half time, with Sir Alex Ferguson probably more concerned about the performance and way in which the goal was conceded with the Champions League tie at the San Siro looming than the loss of the proud defensive record.

However, right on the stroke of the whistle for the break, Jonny Evans headed in Nani’s corner, but referee Howard Webb ruled it out for a push, supposedly by Cristiano Ronaldo, that was impossible to spot in replays. It was clear to all that the decision was probably due to the fact that the corner the goal resulted from was wrongly awarded, but there had been a foul on Nani in the build up which made it a trio of bad decisions.

This was the first in a long line of contentious decisions by referee Webb as in the second half he first failed to spot a swipe by Ronaldo at a Rovers defender, and then booked the United number 7 for a clear dive on the edge of the box. Ronaldo’s 6 or 7 minute spell of controversy was concluded when he restored the Red Devil’s advantage with a truly sublime free kick from the corner of the box.

Blackburn could have taken the lead before Ronaldo’s strike as Nelsen hit the post and Diouf’s rebound effort was saved.

Webb then failed to spot a blatant kick out by Diouf and decided to not give a penalty after Gamst Pedersen fell to the ground ever so easily after contact with Rafael.

For television viewers it was somewhat of a nightmare as Setanta Sports colour commentator Craig Burley was on a one man mission to paint United as lucky beneficiaries of Webb’s howlers, consistently neglecting to mention the errors for Evans’ goal and Diouf’s kick.

United did manage to hold on to record a slim win which was probably only just deserved but, perhaps unfairly, the aftermath will focus on Webb’s performance as somehow gifting the Champions the win when his decisions had several negative impacts on both sides.


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Rooney back with a bang! Watch out Rovers…

Posted on February 20, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Blackburn Rovers, Man United, Players   1 Comment »

As Wayne Rooney took to the field against Fulham on Wednesday night it was clear to see he was itching to get on the pitch and it was no surprise to see him score with his first touch. Wayne Rooney is a tremendous football player and although he sometimes takes second fiddle to the more glamorous egotistic Cristiano Ronaldo, his talents on the football pitch are never in doubt.

I was scouring through 606 the other day in response to an Arsenal related thread about the comeback of Eduardo. Now in this day and age, we know that anyone can have an expert opinion about football – all they need is a keyboard and a monitor (which can even lead to the creation of a blog!) but I came across these two comments that pretty much summarises the ignorance of some people who don’t appreciate what a good footballer actually is at times (when one poster compared Eduardo to Torres, Ronaldo and Rooney):

Not sure why Rooney’s name is in there – He goes on a burst of scoring 7 goals in 7 games then dries up – he runs around alot and has alot of heart but so does Dirk Kuyt and he defo is not one of the best strikers about!!


He’s better than Rooney! Ronaldo is a one off! has the potential to be as good as Torres!

Now of course there are wums and of course you have a certain bias to your own football club, but come on! Comparing Rooney to Kuyt is simply ludicris. Rooney has a superb football brain, is physically first class and has the drive and determination to become one of the all time great forwards in England. His exploits with England in 2004 meant that the usual pressure placed upon one man for the national team continued and I believe too much is expected of him when he plays for England who adopt a completely different style to United.

I remember when he burst on to the scene with Everton and although he had raw talent he was an immense bag of energy running around the place. Obviously as time evoles, being the intelligent player he is, he matured as a player and is a vital player in the style and formation that United adopt today. He can drop deep, stretch the backline, be on the edge of our box setting up a counter attack move before finishing at the other end. He is a true footballer that plays for the team – which could be why some fans do not rate him as much as the glam boys.

For every goal Ronaldo scored last season, there had to be movement from the front players to allow him to obtain the space his talents need to produce. Rooney and Tevez were exceptional last season, but Rooney even moreso. He was never on the losing side in the league when he played. The only time United lost when Rooney was involved was the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea – even though Rooney had to be substituted due to injury. He had equalised for United, just for the record.

His movement and positioning is sublime and it is this that sets him from the rest of his generation in that forward mold. He drags defenders out of position, runs at full backs and closes down deep lying midfielders – trying to sabotage their passing. His injury against Wigan was a setback – but luckily in Carlos Tevez United have a superb, although not as good as Rooney, replacement.

I hope Rooney will be in the starting xi tomorrow – partnering Tevez whilst Berbatov rests for the trip to Inter on Tuesday. I expect Rooney can’t wait to step out on the turf at Old Trafford tomorrow – in order to help United ease past Blackburn Rovers and open up an eight point lead over Liverpool. He will also be lacking match fitness for the Inter game and we need him to be fit for the game in Italy. I’m not sure he will be – but I expect him to start tomorrow and get on the scoresheet. I’m glad Rooney is back because I truely believe he should be labeled a genius.

Looking back at previous Blackburn Rovers ties on ESPN (number 442 on Sky) I was pleased to see the 92/93 winning game against Rovers at Old Trafford to hand us our first title in 26 years. Cantona, Parker, Bruce, Irwin and Giggs – all present in the starting line up – with Robson and Kanchelskis joining the party later on. Giggs, Ince and goal scoring supermo Pallister where on the scoresheet that night and it still feels like yesterday. Gone are the likes of Cantona and McClair but I expect the result tomorrow to be the same and I expect Rooney to take centre stage.

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Match Report: Manchester United 3-0 Fulham

Posted on February 18, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Fulham, Man United, Match Reports   No Comments »

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A 3-0 rout of Fulham sent out an intimidating message to the Premier League as champions Manchester United established a 5 point lead in front of Liverpool at the top.

It was as routine a victory as Sir Alex Ferguson could have hoped for and the points were never really threatened after Paul Scholes had volleyed the home team ahead. Michael Carrick’s corner was met by Scholes from the edge of the box with trademark velocity but Fulham keeper Schwarzer found the strike too hot to handle and the ball rolled into the corner.

The Red Devils pressed with urgency for a second and were denied when Carlos Tevez’s shot from a Dimitar Berbatov pass was ruled out for offside, but achieved their just reward shortly before the break when Berbatov took advantage of Fulham’s defensive shambles – perhaps the reaction to an exhibitionist home side passing move – to tap home what seemed an unassailable goal.

The second half became merely a procession as Fulham declined to threaten and United declined to press home their superiority save for Ronaldo’s constant desire and the introduction of the returning Rooney, who scored the third and final goal converting Park’s mis hit shot with his first touch.

The easy return of Rooney and extension of the record breaking defensive legacy will have pleased Sir Alex but the ease in which they discarded potentially tricky opposition coming into a vital stage of the season will possibly have given him more cheer.


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Match Report: Derby County 1-4 Manchester United

Posted on February 15, 2009  by Stretford-end  in FA Cup, Man United, Match Reports   4 Comments »

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Goals from Nani, Darron Gibson, Cristiano Ronaldo and Danny Welbeck confirmed qualification to the FA Cup quarter finals for the third consecutive season at Pride Park.

The first half was dominated by the Red Devils who were evidently keen to eradicate the memory of last month’s Carling Cup embarrassment by the same opponents. Gibson in particular was impressive, and the immaculate use of the ball from the in-form Ryan Giggs was the highlight of a strong opening 45 minutes.

Darren Fletcher had the first chance after being found by a classy Giggs ball, but Rams keeper Bywater thwarted him – the stoppers next save, from a Park shot, was even better.

Park almost got the opener shortly after, after another wondrous Giggs pass – Derby defended well, but were powerless moments later as Giggs fed Nani who cut in from the left and lashed home a trademark power drive from 20 yards.

United added another before the break to make it 2-0 when Darron Gibson reacted quickest from a blocked Ronaldo free kick to instinctively fire home a cute improvised toe poke from 20 yards. The home side may have had an argument for offside as Rafael, in an offside position, jumped over the ball after it was struck.

The goal however was just reward as just prior to it, Ronaldo had the ball in the net and it was harshly ruled out. Ben Foster’s quick throw found Giggs whose marvelous back flick fed Ronaldo, who in turn slotted home. Only after the celebrations did the linesman’s flag go up, and after consultation with Rob Styles, the goal was ruled out for offside, though replays showed the Portuguese to be in line with the last defender. It may have made little difference to the overall result but the game (and indeed, competition) was cheated of probably the most brilliant moment of the FA Cup this season.

The makeshift strike force did not have long to wait after the interval to make their point, however, as Ronaldo headed in his 15th goal of the season from a Giggs corner in the 48th minute to all but seal progression.

Ronaldo could have got another after being the beneficiary of yet another marvellous Ryan Giggs flick, but Bywater stood tall to deny first Ronaldo then Darren Fletcher.

Derby made a decent fist of a fight, with defender Miles Addison converting a dead ball, but a fourth goal for the away side scored in classy fashion by youngster Danny Welbeck put the gloss on a result that ensured United face a quarter final tie at either Swansea or Fulham in 3 weeks time.


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As Giggs signs a new contract we discuss Giggsy’s greatest goal

Posted on February 12, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Players, Statistics   3 Comments »

As the news dropped that Ryan Giggs signs a new contract with us I received the following blog from Yolkie regarding his all time hero and his greatest goal scored.  Giggsy has put some superb performances whilst adapting to his new surrounds as those legs aged.  Ryan has scored a hatfull of goals over the years and is the only player to score in every Premier League season running after his strike against West Ham on Sunday.

In my opinion Giggsy’s greatest Premier League goal was the second goal in 3-3 draw with Liverpool at Anfield.  Bruce had already put us ahead, before Giggsy broke through to chip Grobbelaar and score a sensational second.  Irwin fired in a freekick to make it three and I can’t seem to remember what else happened that game 🙂

So, I ask you after you’ve read Yolkie’s superb piece – whats your favourite Giggsy goal over the years?

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The hunt for Ryan Giggs’ greatest goal

As arguably Ryan Giggs‘ greatest man-fan I’m not averse to the regular heaping of man love on my idol, as readers of this website will no doubt be aware of.

And as the Giggsy love bandwagon seems to be gathering nationwide pace with some sort of apologetic belated recognition love-in, the powers that be have awarded the winger a new contract extension to run to 2010.

But, even so, as the legends’ career enters its twilight days, those memorable moments to log in the annals would be expected to be fewer than the Welshman is currently providing. But the stunning solo goal scored at Upton Park still throws out the poser that there are few players capable anywhere in the league of such ability, and also the question that is the topic of this blog : of all the great goals Ryan has scored, which is the greatest?

The complete list of memorable goals scored by Giggs (in my humble opinion) can be found in this September blog in which I crowed bleary eyed at his fabulous career that was chronicled in a recent DVD release, aside from the 3 he has scored this season – a run through and deft chip against Middlesbrough in the Carling Cup, a textbook header at Celtic Park, and the dazzling run at Upton Park.

Lists of this nature barely work when presented in numbers over 10 so it is with great pains that I have restricted this selection (though I couldn’t do ten, so here is Giggsy’s Baker’s Dozen!)

1. 1992/93

Spurs @ White Hart Lane – Giggs collects the ball, dances past one challenge, then nutmegs the next defender, rounds the goalkeeper, and despite the tightest of angles, finds the net with a great finish.

2. 1992/93

Blackburn @ Old Trafford – as the United faithful basked in the glory of their title triumph after a 26 year wait, Giggs’ great 30 yard free kick restored parity from Rovers’ shock lead.

3. 1993/94

QPR @ Loftus Road – Perhaps the goal that started to make serious work of the comparisons between Giggs and George Best (and indeed, the goal which prompted Best to say “they might start calling me the old Ryan Giggs!”), the winger made effortless work of four despairing challenges at pace before switching direction and clipping the ball past the keeper.

4. 1995/96

Chelsea @ Stamford Bridge – an oft-forgotten goal, Giggs span Steve Clarke repeatedly in different directions before stabbing the ball home.

5. 1995/96

Manchester City @ Maine Road – Classic moment in Manchester derby history as Keith Curle invited Giggsy to strike for about 5 yards, Giggs finally did from the edge of the area, defying all that were watching to find the top corner with a stinging drive.

6. 1997/98

Juventus @ Old Trafford – After a couple of years of European anti-climax against perennial yardstick Juventus, Ryan Giggs burst through the Juventus defence to smash home a goal that secured United’s victory, and more than that, finally re-established the confidence of the home side among the major European players.

7. 1998/99

Arsenal @ Villa Park – In keeping with Giggs’ era defining goals is arguably the greatest goal ever scored – as much for the way in which it inspired a Manchester United side battling with their opponents for what could have been generation defining as it was for the amazing ability required to score it. Do you need reminding that he ran 60 yards, skinning the best defence in Europe, before smashing the goal past England great David Seaman? Probably not. Do you need reminding that Giggs started the game on the bench due to his dodgy hamstrings and that Fergie’s instructions upon Ryan collecting the ball were “run to the corner”? Probably. It seems a bit unfair to the rest of the goals that this one is in the collection, so if you like, discard this one from your choice.

8. 2000/2001

Bradford @ Valley Parade – Another astonishingly underrated strike. Had an Arsenal or Liverpool player scored it you may never have heard the end of it, but anyway – Giggs picks up a high ball with instant control, gives the defender twisted blood (see what I did?) and drills in via the near post. Pure class, pure genius.

9. 2001/2002

Deportivo @ Old Trafford – In my previous blog regarding our number 11 I did describe this as “fewer sights in football are as great as seeing Giggs put defenders on their arse”. Dribbling in from the right, he slots in with his left at the near post. With, of course, the obligatory arse-placed defender.


10. Juventus @ Delle Alpi – Maybe equally as significant for the fact that Giggs was facing criticsm from United fans for the first time after a glaring miss against Arsenal in the Cup, he came on to race past two challenges and screw past Buffon with his right foot from 18 yards, pointed to his name on the shirt, silencing the doubters.


11. Chelsea @ Old Trafford – Probably in the bigger picture the most meaningless goal of the selection seeing as it came in a 2-1 home defeat in the League Cup, this really classy flick with the outside of the left boot over Cech gave everyone a clear reminder of Giggs’ unparalelled technical ability.


12. Birmingham @ Old Trafford – Ryan picks up a pass from Ferdinand, ‘megs the defender, one-two’s with Rooney then races behind the defence to drive home.


13. West Ham @ Upton Park – Fellow veteran Scholes drives out a 30 yards pass which Giggs instantly controls, then races into the area, beating two men before driving home with his right foot. At the age of 35, Giggs shows that there are still few players capable of his level of effortless brilliance.

Now, it may be asking a lot of readers who don’t have such an elephant style memory as mine to recall all the goals. There are of course quite a few goals that didn’t make it, notably for me, his free kick against Bolton in 2003, ’round the keeper’ goals from Norwich in 1991 and 1993, and Sheff Wed in 1994, a left footer against Coventry in 1992, as well as the sentimental strikes against Wigan and Chelsea (though, obviously, strictly not a goal) last May.

This chap on youtube – has got goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 on his video ( though for the other 6 you may have to use your memory!).

Have I completely missed out what you think is the best goal?

What goal do you rank as the greatest he’s ever scored? And, if it’s the ’99 semi final goal, which is the second greatest?


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