United should be proud of League Cup History

Posted on September 23, 2009  by Stretford-end  in League Cup, Man United, World Club Championship   No Comments »

Brian McClair

So.. the Carling Cup.

The Football League Cup is a curious animal for United. Just take our last four campaigns – as many humiliations as success stories.

It is a snapshot of our modern history in the competition, particularly since Sir Alex Ferguson (or just plain Alex as he was then) decided to use English football’s second cup as bleeding for his wet behind the ears youth prodigies.

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Match Report: Liga de Quito 0-1 Man Utd

Posted on December 21, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, World Club Championship   No Comments »

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Manchester United became the 2008 World Club Champions after beating Copa Libertadores Champions, Liga de Quito, in the final in Japan – although the sending off of Nemanja Vidic was the only downside.

United totally dominated the game from start to finish with Wayne Rooney giving a masterclass in movement and making so many intelligent runs, the Liga de Quito defense were run ragged. Rooney latched on to a number of superb Michael Carrick passes and tested the Ecuadorian keeper José Francisco Cevallos. Rooney two best chances resulted in two superb saves to stop United’s number 10 from opening the scoring.

The best chance in the early part of the half actually fell to the South American champions who worked a smart freekick from the left hand side and Argentinian play maker Manso swung in a low cross to only see Jairo Campos miss the target. It really was the closest the South American’s came to opening the scoring.

Anderson was dogged in midfield showing why he is can soon be considered an all round midfield with his constant harrying and pursuing of the opposition when they had the ball and his creative thinking when opening up chances for Rooney. His passes and moves very quickly and as soon as he becomes more prolific in front of goal – it will be hard to dislodge him from the midfield – although the night belonged to Wayne Rooney.

Early in the second half United were down to ten men due to a foolish off the ball incident involving Nemanja Vidic. Vidic clashed with Claudio Bieler and whilst both players were on the floor – the Serb swung an elbow in the face of the Argentinian forward – he had to go . The only problem for United now is that he will miss the first leg clash between Manchester United and Inter Milan out in Italy.

Ronaldo continued to raise the crowd, who were overjoyed to see his showboating and skills as he glided across the Yokohama pitch. Carrick was once again showing as to why he can be considered one of the best passers in Europe and was unlucky that he did not get more assists to his name after some sublime through balls.

The goal came on the seventy-third minute when Wayne Rooney curled a superb shot passed the thirty seven year old keeper who could not get near the placed shot. United were well worth the goal and should have won this game by a lot more than the 1-0 margin. It was only right that Wayne Rooney was crowned most valuable player of the tournament.

Gary Neville and Darren Fletcher came on for the last seven minutes but the game was already won and United were crowned Champions of the World in a tournament that has received some criticism over the past week. United came out and did what they had to do and can now look forward to a boxing day clash with Stoke City who will be hoping to avenge a 5-0 thrashing from November.

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Match Report: Manchester United 5-3 Osaka Gamba

Posted on December 18, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, World Club Championship   No Comments »

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In the battle between the European and Asian Champions League winners it was the Western representatives that won through to Sunday’s World Club Championship Final, but the Japanese side Gamba Osaka gave a spirited performance.

Manchester United fielded a strong side despite being robbed of the services of Berbatov through illness and Rooney (at least as a starter) through injury and started the semi final with clear intent – Cristiano Ronaldo, subject of renewed transfer rumours coming from Real Madrid, was completely unplayable.

Gamba came close when Bando broke free and fired for goal – but Edwin van der Sar was equal to the chance, making a good save.

The Japanese side’s experienced skipper Yamaguchi’s presence was vital as his numerous interceptions prevented what could have been an embarrassing start for Gamba.

Just before the half hour mark, Ryan Giggs’ cross (just as it did in the 1999 Intercontinental Cup) created the opening goal, his corner being headed in by Nemanja Vidic.

Moments later Ronaldo broke free on the right hand side and whipped in a lovely ball – Anderson was agonisingly close to his first United goal, but could only get the slightest of touches on it.

The Red Devils were enjoying the occasion and were using a variety of combinations to open up their opponents – switching the play using long balls, the industry and movement of Giggs dropping off Tevez, and the ever willing Ronaldo providing the three highlights of the play.

And in first half stoppage time the Ballon D’or 2008 winner got the goal his performance deserved, rising well to head in another Ryan Giggs corner.

The second half gave every indication that it would just peter out and United made their substitutes, as Evans and Fletcher came on for Vidic and Scholes, and then Rooney came on for Tevez.

However as Rooney entered the game, with 15 minutes left, a wild conclusion followed. With the crowd still applauding Rooney’s introduction, United were caught cold and Yamazaki halved the deficit to gave the Japanese club hope of a comeback. But, with the crowd still applauding the goal, Fletcher played Rooney through who dummied the marker and, with his first touch since coming on, slotted in coolly with his left foot. Soon after, good work on the left side by Evra and Nani culminated in a Nani cross which was headed in by Fletcher.

More was to follow as after a good move, Giggs’ exquisitive first time ball was comfortably scored with ease by Rooney. It was 5-1 and there was hardly time to breathe before Gary Neville was harshly penalised for handball when he was turning his back on the ball. It was particularly harsh given Neville had previously saved a certain goal with an amazing block tackle.

Endo scored the penalty – a satisfactory end for the midfielder who had been running a personal battle with van der Sar with long range shots in the second half.

Into injury time and the scoring still wasn’t finished – Gamba netted again with a storming finish by Hideo Hashimoto.

Utlimately though, it was the English champions who won through to face Ecuadorian side LDU Quito in Sunday’s final.


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Hallelujah! Cause for Christmas cheer as United head to Tokyo

Posted on December 15, 2008  by Stretford-end  in Man United, World Club Championship   1 Comment »

With almost a two week gap until United next play and with the much talked about and much dreaded fixture list that saw us play against last seasons top 9 before Christmas (and away after EVERY European tie), it’s an appropriate time to take stock and make an evaluation to see how well we are doing.

On last years equivalent away fixtures it might surprise you (it certainly did me) to discover we have taken exactly the same amount of points – 13. Defeats at Chelsea and City last season have been exchanged with defeats at Liverpool and Arsenal – and while United won at Villa Park and Goodison Park last season but drew at Parks Fratton and Ewood, the reverse has occured this year.

Perhaps a slight concern is that in those 9 games we have only scored 8 times where last year we rattled in 12.

After 16 games last season we had a very healthy 36 points but 9 of those opening games were at Old Trafford as opposed to the 9 away at the start of this campaign. We currently sit on 32 points but Liverpool in first and on 38 with one more game played are not uncatchable.

At this stage last season we had scored 29 goals in the league – the 27 scored so far makes a lie of those who believe United have found it difficult to score.

I would not be being truthful if I said I didn’t have concerns about our chance conversion ration at the minute – and, too, at times, the lack of creativity we offer when we play both Fletcher and Park in the side.

But, for now, console yourself in the knowledge that United have negotiated (on paper, at least) their toughest away games and are more or less fighting on an even playing field despite that handicap. You might even argue that given the difficulty of the fixture list so far that we are performing better. Let’s just hope that the break in Japan will lead to a reinvigorated Red Devils side in time for a packed schedule from the festive schedule and beyond.

World Club Championship

Thursday morning sees us take on Japanese side Gamba in the semi finals of the World Club Championship. This is the first time United have been at this stage since the re-formatting of the competition, as we bid to become the only British team to win the trophy in either format (or, indeed, both, as we won in 1999).

Sir Alex has made his intention clear by sending a full first team squad to Tokyo when before it appeared he may rest one or two.

The prestige of the competition has been questioned by rival fans (cough, Scousers) whose main bone of contention lies in the fact that they have not won it yet.

However, much as I did in 1999, I see the competition as a fantastic chance to prove we are legitimately the best team in the world. If we win I will be delighted, perhaps as delighted as I was when we won the European Cup in May.

In time the competition will surely become more “glamorous” (though don’t hold your breath as I’m pretty sure it will need to be won by Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea before the media will feel excited about labelling the winners the best in the world), and to anyone who’s defying the credit crunch or the Christmas pinch and travelling to see the games, inspire our lads to victory and round off one of the two best years in the clubs history in style.


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